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Lexington teen earns gold at Math Olympiad in China

Lexington — According to the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), one of the two U.S. teams that competed recently at the ninth annual China Girls Mathematical Olympiad (CGMO) has placed second overall, behind a team from China, among 48 teams of girls from around the world.

Of the eight high school girls on the two U.S. teams, seven students won top honors — five gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal — and one student earned an honorable mention at the international competition held Aug. 9-13 in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Provence, China.

Elizabeth Synge of Lexington, a senior at Boston University Academy, was among the gold medal winners. Synge earned a silver medal at the 2009 CGMO.

"We are thrilled by the outstanding performance of the U.S. teams at the China Girls Math Olympiad," said Robert Bryant, director of MSRI, which is based in Berkeley, Calif. "This girls-only international contest provides an invaluable opportunity to encourage young women to study mathematics and develop their talent, which is important to fostering the future competitiveness of our country, and to enable them to meet and work with others who share their enthusiasm for math.”

The highly competitive math tournament drew 190 girls from about 10 countries, including China, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore.

Founded in 2002, the CGMO began as a regional competition for teams of female students from China and other eastern Asian countries (including Russia). It was later expanded to invite teams from more countries and MSRI sent the first team from the United States in 2007.

This is the fourth consecutive year that MSRI has sponsored two U.S. girls teams at CGMO. The eight team members were chosen from the top ranks of the female finalists in the 2010 USA Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO).

“The CGMO experience has a profound effect on the young women who participate, and it provides an inspiration to other students, helping them appreciate the fun and accomplishment of solving hard problems," Bryant said.

The girls on the U.S. teams wrote an online travelogue to share highlights from their trip to the 2010 CGMO.