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Paly students win international math contest

Daniel Li

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Juniors Eric Foster, Andrew Lee, mathematics instructional supervisor Radu Toma, Kathryn Li and Allison Zhang (left to right) pose for a picture after winning the international Mathematical Modeling Challenge contest. The team and Mr. Toma are invited to Hong Kong in July to attend the awards ceremony. Photo by Daniel Li.

Juniors Eric Foster, Andrew Lee, team advisor Radu Toma, Kathryn Li and Allison Zhang (left to right) pose for a picture. They won the International Mathematical Modeling Challenge contest on Monday, and the team and Toma are invited to Hong Kong in July to attend the awards ceremony. Photo by Daniel Li.

A team of four juniors in Advanced Placement BC Calculus are invited to Hong Kong in July for their success in the International Mathematical Modeling Challenge on Monday.

Juniors Allison Zhang, Eric Foster, Kathryn Li and Andrew Lee won the international competition on behalf of Palo Alto High School and the United States. Teams were required to solve a real world problem relating to the field of mathematics. The contest was held during mid-March and ended early-May, and during that time, teams chose five consecutive days to work and collaborate on the assigned problem.

This year, teams were asked to design a model for effective filming and production of a motion picture.

“We modeled movie scheduling, taking into account variables such as actor availability, prop/set construction time and traveling costs,” Zhang said.

In an email to the Palo Alto High School faculty, Toma praised the team for its achievement.

“This is the highest award Paly students have ever earned in mathematics,” Toma said. “I am absolutely blown away by their accomplishment and humbled both to have had them as students. This award is a tribute both to these students’ exceptional talent, work ethic, determination and love of mathematics, and to all their past mathematics teachers who have taught, inspired and mentored these kids over the years.”

According to Zhang, the team is very excited to hear that they won the international competition on behalf of the United States and Palo Alto High School.

Members of the team were shocked when they found out they had won, according to Lee.

“Honestly, it was a bit of a surprise,” Lee said. “We actually were not 100 percent confident in our paper when we submitted it. Even in the last couple hours, we were rushing to proof-read and complete it.”

Because of their accomplishments, the team and Toma are invited to Hong Kong in July to receive an award. In addition, three other high schools from Beijing, Singapore and Shanghai are also invited to this ceremony.

“The other three team members and I cannot wait to travel to Hong Kong for the awards ceremony,” Zhang said. “This contest is especially significant to us because it encourages high school students to solve relevant real world problems through applied mathematics.

 

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