Math Club Calculates the Formula for Success

Mira Ponnambalam ’26 in Features | October 27, 2023

          Throughout the course of the year, Lawrenceville’s Math Club participates in a wide array of math competitions. On Tuesday, October 17, V Former Alec Wang ’24; III Formers Brooke Bartlett, Victoria Slavov, and Ethan Zhu ; and  II Formers , Isabelle Lee, Robert Lee , Sonia Shum, and Eric Xu  attended the Delaware Valley Math League competition (DelVal) at the Lawrence High School, placing first as a team. The competition consisted of a one hour, 10 question test. The three highest scores among each school were added to produce a cumulative score for all the schools that participated. 
            Math competitions help students develop problem solving skills in a unique manner.  According to Wang, “competition math is about applying basic concepts and knowing when to use them; it helps me make connections.” Math competitions place greater emphasis on logic rather than on specific mathematical principles. Due to the difference between competition math and math in typical curricula, students at varying levels in Lawrenceville’s curriculum  can excel at competitions like the DelVal. The Math Club holds weekly meetings on Friday for students to explore competition math. “We do alot of practice AMC (American Math Competition) problems whilst walking people through it and just learning that way. It’s really helpful, especially with all the kids in the room teaching each other problem solving strategies,” mentioned Bartlett. The AMC, a nationwide competition with multiple grade levels and potential advancement, is one of the larger math competitions that Lawrenceville offers. Smaller competitions like the DelVal have similar questions. 
           The DelVal Competition also gives students an opportunity to interact with each other, although the competition is technically individual. “There’s an atmosphere at math competitions where you know everyone else is working on the same thing as you,” commented Wang. Since the test answers are released immediately after the competition ends, students have the opportunity to learn about how others approached problems while bonding with their teammates and waiting for their results. “I got to do it with my friends. Afterwards we got to compare answers and just talk about it and that was really fun,” said Slavov. Wang called group competitions “fun and chaotic.”
           The DelVal Competition is also considered a low-stakes competition because of its smaller scale and scoring policies. “It’s really chill and fun. It’s not a big deal and it's very low pressure. It’s a fun way to work on your problem solving and practice for a bigger competition like the AMC,” Slavov said. 
 Despite the low stakes of the competition, finding time to attend these competitions while balancing other commitments can be difficult. “Signing up for it was difficult. It was hard to find the time,” stated Slavov. Yet many students still enjoy the competitions enough to find time in their schedules. “Maybe I do well, maybe I don’t, either way it’s a good experience. I’m definitely glad that I did it, and I’m going to do more in the future because it's worth it,” mentioned Bartlett. Math competitions provide an opportunity for students to explore math outside of Math Club and interact with other students outside of Lawrenceville. “It doesn’t really matter who wins and who loses. You’re just there to do math, so it’s really fun,” added Wang. 
          Regardless of their reasons for participating and the difficulties that come with the process, many Lawrentians find math competitions a rewarding experience!