Hundreds of high school students factor up a fury on Math Day

math day

More than 300 high school students were on campus Nov. 3 for Math Day, hosted by the Department of Mathematics. 

Earlier this month, the Colorado State University Lory Student Center was abuzz with equations and furious calculating. But not from Rams. The factorial furor was from 314 high school students – from near and far – on campus for Math Day, an annual competitive event hosted by the College of Natural Sciences’ Department of Mathematics.

The day, which took place Nov. 3 this year, is fast-paced and frenetic, with students competing in an individual test in the morning, followed by a team-based, double-elimination tournament.

Counting up scholarships – and computers

This year’s students – who traveled with their teachers from as far away as Rocky Ford, Steamboat Springs and Gering, Nebraska – excelled in the testing portion. Known as the “Problems that Require Original and Brilliant Effort” (or PROBE) examination, the hour-long test is created each year by Associate Professor Anton Betten. This year, an astounding six students received perfect scores of 100. Each of these students was awarded a $5,000 scholarship to study mathematics at CSU. Four other students, who received an 87 or better on the test, were offered a $2,500 scholarship.

There was also a high level of competition this year among the dozens of three-student teams in the college-bowl style tournament. Fairview High School team A beat out Fairview High School team B (both Boulder) for the trophy in the large school division. And Liberty Common High School team A (Fort Collins) won the trophy in the small school division final against Scottsbluff High School team A (Scottsbluff, Nebraska).

All 12 students in the final tournament round, as well as the top 10 students from the PROBE exam, were also entered into a drawing for one of two ZBook Studio Mobile Workstations, donated by HP Inc.. Both student HP winners this year were from Fairview High School.

Expanding connections

The goal of Math Day is not only to recognize excellence in mathematics achievement among regional high school students, but also to foster more connections in – and with – that community. While the students are taking the PROBE exam, for example, their math teachers have the opportunity to network and to hear from CSU faculty about relevant topics, such as transitioning students from advanced placement calculus to college calculus.

The event also allows students an opportunity to spend time on a major research university campus. While they’re here, student groups are encouraged to explore CSU, attend an information session, and take a tour. After up to five hours of intense math, a stroll around campus is well earned.

Want to see how you would stack up to some of the region’s best high school math students? You can try sample PROBE questions here – and team competition questions here. The clock starts now.