Four Texas middle-school students, Jeffrey Chan, Kevin Chen, Millie Shi, and Sallyann Zhou who comprised the Texas Mathworks team, brought home the Po Leung Kuk Cup, awarded to the top non-Asian team, of which there were 14, competing in the 10th Primary Math World Contest (PMWC) held in Hong Kong. The team had a perfect team score and won top honors in their division. In addition, Jeffery and Kevin had perfect individual papers.
On July 15, Jeffery, Kevin, Millie, and SallieAnn, all 12-13 years old, made the 8000 mile trip to Hong Kong escorted by team leaders Diann McCabe and Hiroko Warshauer, Texas State University faculty. They competed with teams from around the world including Bulgaria, Australia, South Africa, and Mexico as well as most of the Pacific rim countries of Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, China, India, Philippines, Macau, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong. Two other teams from California also represented the US.
Forty-eight teams in all competed at the 10th PMWC. Each team consisting of 4 students not yet in high school took rigorous individual and team tests. Sam Baethge, who coaches the team during the Mathworks Junior Summer Math Camp, and several Texas State math faculty submitted a set of possible test problems in late spring as did other countries. Once in Hong Kong, Hiroko and the other team leaders gathered several days prior to the actual competition and selected the problems. After the set of problems were agreed upon, each problem was thoroughly discussed and written in English so that the problems would be understandable and reasonable for this age group. The team leaders from non-English speaking countries translated all the problems into their student’s native language. The beauty of mathematics is its universality. The tests were written in the respective language of the contestants be it Bulgarian, Greek, Chinese, or Japanese.
Po Leung Kuk, an educational and welfare organization in Hong Kong, hosts the PMWC and provides contestants a challenging competition and an opportunity to share goodwill with students and educators from around the world. One of our team members wrote, “I’ve been to lots of math competitions in Texas and a few around the United States, but I’ve never competed out of the country so I’ll never forget the experience.”
In the five years of attending the PMWC, Texas Mathworks teams have served as ambassadors to peoples around the world through their intelligence, dedication, and friendliness. They present a positive image of young Americans. The Mathworks team members come back with a broader view of the world and an appreciation for the power of mathematics to draw people together. The interest and excitement for this competition has generated interest in problem solving classes at the Texas Mathworks summer math camps.
The team leaders have an opportunity to share ideas about both teaching and mathematics with other math educators from around the world. On two separate occasions team leaders from Japan visited the Texas State University campus and gave talks to Texas State undergraduates, faculty and students. Texas Mathworks continues to forge ties with other educators from around the world and to share a variety of interesting problems that challenge young students. Teachers across the state are encouraging their students to develop their problem solving skills and participate in the qualifying test and summer program-the Texas State Junior Summer Math Camp.
For more information or to provide support for next year’s Mathworks program please contact us at Texas Mathworks at 601 University San Marcos, TX, 78666 or call 512-245-3439.