2010 Summer Math Tournament

 - Alex Zivkovic, University High School, Class of 2013

            Dozens of students today attended their final day of summer camp at the Irvine Chinese School. As a part of their final class, these students participated in a math tournament in which they competed for trophies, lollipops, and the even more appealing large jars of candy.

            The Irvine Chinese School partnered with the Orange County Math Circle to promote math competitions and send a message about the importance and fun of mathematics to all ofVolunteers its students. Participating students ranged from those entering the first grade, all the way to the soon-to-be sixth graders. The summer program started early in the morning, although the tournament began at one o'clock.

            The first group of students included the fourth through sixth graders. Their competition consisted of a 40 minute test of 30 questions. Each grade had a different test, and students competed only with others in their grade level. The top three scorers per grade level would receive a trophy. Following the test, students were given free time during which many attempted the available Sudoku problems. During the awards ceremony, winning students received their trophies and a lollipop of their choosing. After the trophies were handed out, the students were all dismissed. Before departing, however, every student selected their favorite lollipops to enjoy during their break.

            After the older group, came the first through third graders. These students, unlike the older competitors, would play several games in addition to their taking their tests. For the three grades, there existed only one test form. A twenty minute, multiple-choice test of twenty questions covered the basics that students learn in lower elementary school such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, division, and basic fractions. The youngest students braved through this test which covered much of what they were yet to learn. These students, although stumped by the difficult subject matter, persevered through the test and ultimately the smiles on their faces demonstrated that doing math is enjoyable, even without reaching the correct answer!

            Following the test, the OCMC volunteers lead the students in two rounds of Simon Says. Students cheered on their classmates as the volunteers tried to trick the competitors into following the wrong directions. The two winners, an the final four from each of the rounds were rewarded with candy.

            Students returned to their seats, where they awaited the announcement of the rules for the next round. This round had been previously shrouded in mystery and the students eagerly awaited directions after hearing that this round involved candy. To their candy-craving eyes appeared three large jars filled to the brim with lollipops.

            The tournament organizers announced that the next part of the competition would be an estimation round. As volunteers passed out slips of paper asking asking for their name, grade, and estimations for each of these jars, the rules were explained. The jars would rotate throughout the tables and would remain at the tables for only twenty seconds. During this period, students would estimate how many lollipops were crammed into each jar. Once every table had made estimations for each of the three jars, the competition was over, and students awaited the results.

            The top three competitors in the younger session received trophies for their performance on the written tests. Following this, the results for the estimation jars were also announced. For each jar, the student who most closely guessed the number of lollipops inside of it would receive the entire jar and its contents as an award. The number of lollipops that fit into each jar was announced, and the winners were awarded their respective jars.

            Jar 3, with 143 lollipops was awarded to three students who had tied in their guesses. Each took their share home in a small, plastic bucket. As a final competition question, how many lollipops did each student receive if they shared evenly?

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