2014 All Girls Math Tournament

by Jennifer Choi, Class of 2017, Oxford Academy

While most people might occupy Sunday afternoons by shopping, watching TV, or simply relaxing, a large group of young girls and volunteers bustled about the gym at St. Anne School. The atmosphere was upbeat and excited, and enthusiasm seeped into even the furthest corners of the entire place. That Sunday, May 4th, Orange County Math Circle was holding its fifth annual All-Girls Math Tournament. This tournament was first held in 2010, and continues to be an opportunity for girls from grades 3 through 8 to develop a greater passion for mathematics and to have a fun, educational experience with others sharing similar interests.

Even before registration desks opened at 12:30, many of the more than 220 participants, the highest number in the history of the tournament, were eagerly waiting outside the gym. Once registration began students and their parents streamed into the gym, making sure to check in before grabbing a tournament T-shirt and taking a seat at the bleachers. By 1:00, most participants were present, and the gym was nearly full to bursting. After a warm welcome and short introduction by the co-emcees Staphany Hou and Lia Tian, the competition began.

The Individual Round, started with a 30 problem, 40 minute Sprint Round. The gym grew silent soon after the tests were distributed as participants focused their full attention on solving the challenging problems. After the Sprint Round was the Target Round, a shorter test consisting of only 8 questions to be completed in 24 minutes. These two parts to the Individual Round are designed similarly MATHCOUNTS competitions.

After finishing the Target Round, participants headed outside for a 15 minute break, in which they were free to enjoy delicious treats from the Bake Sale organized by Mrs. Fafoutis or discuss the Individual Round. OCMC also held the “Math is…” photo shoot, where students could complete the statement “Math is …” on a provided sheet and pose with their response for the camera.

When the break was over, participants returned to the gym for an 8 problem, 30 minute Team Round. Teams were formed by table, which had already been arranged by grade. The theme for this year was the classic board game Monopoly. This round had a considerably lighter mood than the previous two; the entire gym was soon filled with animated discussion as students put their heads together to solve questions.

Following another 15 minute break, parents and students kept their eyes and ears open for guest speaker Professor Diane Clemens-Knott, a geologist at California State University Fullerton. She gave an interesting and insightful speech on her research and teaching experiences as a geologist. Professor Clemens-Knott encouraged participants to continue pursuing any of their interests as a career for the future.

The All-Girls Math Tournament was concluded by the highly anticipated Awards Ceremony. The emcees recognized special people and donors that have contributed to the organization before announcing the winners. Team prizes, large bags of Tootsie pops, were given to the best scoring team in each of three divisions – third and fourth, fifth and sixth, and seventh and eighth grades. Also, trophies were given to the top three individuals in each grade level.

Before participants left, emcee Lia Tian encouraged the students, saying, “I hope to inspire more girls like you to pursue their interests in mathematics.” With the conclusion of a very successful tournament, OCMC hopes to encourage girls to continue pursuing passions in STEM fields, and to apply the same enthusiasm shown at this tournament to inspire others.