When it comes to Pi or pie, math counts!

March 7, 2018

Pi Day, on March 14, is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π, which is commonly defined as the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. In decimal form, the value is approximately equal to 3.14, and no matter how big or small the circle, it’s always the same. To pin it down exactly, the decimals would have to go on forever. As Toy Story’s Buzz Light year would say, “…to infinity and beyond!”

First place winners Washington Middle School at the 2018 Oahu Chapter MATHCOUNTS Competition. Left to right: Dewey Gottlieb, Education Specialist, Hawaii Department of Education; Jean Okumura, Professor of Mathematics, University of Hawaii Windward Community College; Washington Middle School students Adam Inamasu, Minjae Seo, Jordan Wong, Felicity Zhou and Coach Sung Park; Scott Seu, Senior Vice President-Public Affairs, Hawaiian Electric; Barry Nakamoto, MATHCOUNTS State Co-Coordinator. Photo by: Edmund Chang

As we come up on Pi Day next week, it seems fitting to give a shout out to Hawaii’s young “mathletes” who recently competed in the Oahu Chapter MATHCOUNTS® Competition sponsored by the Hawaiian Electric Companies and the Hawaii Society of Professional Engineers Educational Foundation (HSPEEF) with support from Kamehameha Schools.

The MATHCOUNTS Competition series is a national program open to students in grades 6–8, and has been around since 1983. On Oahu, the HSPEEF has taken the lead on organizing the Oahu regional and state level MATHCOUNTS supported by engineering trade associations, business and corporate sponsors and educators all seeking to advance student interest in STEM careers.

“Competing in math is perfect training for being a CEO — you have to work in a team, think under pressure, and act decisively. MATHCOUNTS makes working with numbers as easy as pi.” — Dawn Lippert, CEO of Elemental Excelerator and a former MATHCOUNTS participant

MATHCOUNTS builds confidence and improves attitudes toward math and problem solving during this critical juncture in a student’s education — when his or her love for mathematics must be nurtured or the fear of math must be overcome.

Hawaiian Electric’s Scott Seu, senior vice president — public affairs, welcomes participants to the 35th annual Oahu Chapter MATHCOUNTS Competition. Photo by: Edmund Chang

This year’s 35th annual Oahu Chapter MATHCOUNTS Competition on February 10, 2018 at Kamehameha Schools drew about 200 middle school students to compete in a series of team and individual math tests that challenged their problem-solving, analytical and logical thinking skills.

In the Team Round, student teams of four mathletes had 20 minutes to complete 10 math problems using calculators. In the Sprint Round, individual students must answer 30 difficult geometry, combinatorics and algebra problems in 40 minutes while the Target Round had eight problems presented in pairs with six minutes to complete each pair. After all the scores were tallied, the top 10 mathletes were:

  • Minjae Seo, Washington Middle School
  • Jared Lo, Punahou School
  • Jordan Ho, Washington Middle School
  • Noah Chung, Punahou School
  • Adam Inamasu, Washington Middle School
  • Ryan Vanairsdale, Washington Middle School
  • Felicity Zhou, Washington Middle School
  • Kyle Ching, Iolani School
  • Ryunosuke Nakase, Washington Middle School
  • Zachary Tyrrell, Washington Middle School

The top schools were determined by adding all four team members’ individual Sprint and Target rounds to their Team Round score.

  • 1st — Washington Middle School; Coach Sung Park and Daniel Ninomiya
  • 2nd — Highlands Intermediate School
  • 3rd — Iolani School
  • 4th — Punahou School
  • 5th — Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Middle School
  • 6th — Kapolei Middle School
  • 7th — Wahiawa Middle School
  • 8th — Mililani Middle School
  • 9th — Niu Valley Middle School
  • 10th — Moanalua Middle School
Hawaiian Electric employees are among the more than 100 volunteers that assist with scoring, proctoring, judging and handing out refreshments at MATHCOUNTS. Many thanks to volunteers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers Young Members Forum, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Department of Education who also assist. Photo by: Edmund Chang

The top six Oahu schools now advance to the MATHCOUNTS State Competition on March 10, 2018, at Kamehameha School Kapalama Campus where they will compete with neighbor island teams. At the state competition, the top mathletes also will have to compete in a Countdown Round that challenges them to quickly solve math problems in less than 45 seconds without the use of a calculator. The four mathletes emerging from the Countdown Round will go to the National MATHCOUNTS Competition, May 12–15, 2018, in Washington, D.C., along with a Hawaii math coach whose team had the best scores.

Good luck to all the mathletes and mahalo to the hundreds of volunteers that make these events possible. And everyone can celebrate Pi Day on March 14 with some delicious pie!

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