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Andi Wang competes for U.S. at China Girls Math Olympiad

Andi Wang ’10, a former Math Team Captain at Choate, represented the United States in the 2010 China Girls Math Olympiad. The competition ran from August 9-13 in Shijiazhuang, China (about 100 miles southwest of Beijing.) Wang received an honorable mention in the competition. “We (as a team) got five out of the twenty gold medals awarded,” said Wang, currently a freshman in college.

According to the Mathematical Association of America (The MAA), two U.S. girls’ teams competed. One placed second, just behind a team from China. There were 48 teams from ten different countries competing. Of the eight girls on the U.S. teams, seven students won top honors: five gold medals, one silver medal, and one bronze. “There [were] around 193 (girls) at the competition, I think,” said Wang.

According to Wang, before traveling to China with the team, all of the girls prepared at the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Wang said, “It was basically the most intense math camp ever.” The camp was from June 8 to 30. On the camp website, the MAA describes the session as an “extensive practice in solving mathematical problems which require deeper analysis than those solved by students in even the best American high schools.” Participants attend classes all day, focusing upon “several important areas of mathematics that are traditionally emphasized more in other countries than in the United States.” These topics include: graph theory, probability, number theory, polynomials, complex numbers in geometry, combinatorial and advanced geometry, functional equations and classical inequalities, and combinatorics, arguments and identities. The camp strives to ensure that the record of the United States “properly reflects the energy and creativity of its brightest students.” According to Wang, the coaches were determined for success. “They sent us four-question practice tests that took four-hours.”

Wang’s qualification for the competition began with testing in high school. “[The] AMC, AIME, and USAMO are all things you take at Choate,” said Wang. “I started with the AMC 12.”

The American Math Competition (AMC) 12 is a 25 question, 75-minute multiple-choice examination. According to the MAA, “The main purpose of the AMC 12 is to spur interest in mathematics and to develop talent through solving challenging problems.” After scoring in the top 5% on the AMC 12, Wang qualified for The American Invitation Math Examination (the AIME.) Students scoring above a 10 on the AIME qualify for the USA Math Olympiad (USAMO.) “I got an 11 on the AIME,” said Wang. Exemplary performance in these math contests led to Wang’s participation as a member of the United States team competing in the China Girls’ Math Competition.

Mr. Caleb McArthur, faculty adviser to the Math Team at Choate, said, “Andi is a very talented math student. It does not surprise me that she has gone so far.”

According to the MAA, “Sponsorship provides travel funds for the participants.” However, there was some time for play amidst all of the intense work, hour-long practice tests, and additional preparation. “Before the competition, the team stayed for three days in Hong Kong, and we went to Ocean Park (it’s this aquarium/amusement park combination),” said Wang. After competing, the girls spent additional time “touring Beijing.” “The Ladies Market is this street in Hong Kong where you can buy all sorts of stuff such as clothes and cheap jewelry and other girly stuff,” said Wang, “[I bought] cell phone charms.”

Overall, “[The competition] was Awesome,” said Wang. Wang has participated in many math competitions. “Since the sixth grade, I’ve been a ‘mathlete’… I began on my public middle school’s team,” she said. “Math olympiads are typically individual from the national level down, but at the international level, it’s a team event,” said Wang, “Everyone works on a set of problems, everyone’s scores gets added together, and whichever team has the highest score wins.”

Mr. McArthur said, “ While at Choate, Andi was a great member on the team. She truly led through example. It is easy for girls to not be involved in Math and for the team to be male-dominated. Having Andi there really helped to get other girls involved.” Mr. McAthur said, “It was easier for other younger girls to get involved because of Andi’s presence.” AhYoung Yoo ’12, a fellow female member on the Choate Math Team, said, “Andi was a good captain. She was very passionate about competition and involved on the team.”

Wang looks forward to various other math competitions, and as Mr. McArthur said, “continues serving as an example for girls in the field mathematics.”