UHS Math Club places 2nd in nationwide Interstellar Math Madness competition

Staff Writer
Math Club placed 2nd in the nationwide Interstellar Math Madness finals on Thursday, December 10. The competition began in late September, starting the five week preliminary phase which separates the hundreds of teams around the nation into divisions. UHS made it into the top division. By November, the bracket phase started; winning teams went on to the next round while losing teams were eliminated.
Since each round lasted one week, the Math Club would meet every Thursday at lunch to compete. During the matches, club members had 30 minutes to solve around 8-10 questions, and the team score consisted of the top five individual scores of the students.
During the final round, questions were significantly harder than in previous rounds and students were extremely focused. “We scored 42/50 and we ended up getting 2nd nationally,” said Jonathan Huang (Jr.), co-president. The UHS team placed behind The Harker School, a nationally recognized private school for STEM located in the Bay Area.
Many participants agreed that Math Madness was a rewarding experience. “My favorite part of the competition was the excitement of seeing how we were doing compared to other schools.  We would watch our opponents live and calculate their average time to see what we needed to beat,” said Jason Ye (Jr.), who organizes participation of the UHS Math Club in math competitions.
For some, this competition was a nice change from other math competitions because participants felt a little less pressure. “It’s okay if you don’t do as well, because your teammates are always there and they are great mathematicians,” said Jenny Li (Jr.).
However, for others, Math Madness was nerve wracking and required preparation, mathematically and mentally. “Personally, I always panic before, during, and after competitions. This contest is very intense. I always aim for perfection, and calming myself down is probably the hardest part,” said Helen Kang (Sr.), “but I really loved this competition. It’s fun and exciting.”
Tomoka Takeuchi (Sr.), a first-time participant of Math Madness, was initially reluctant to get involved but ultimately felt that it was well worth it. “The fun part of this competition was that you solve problems to compete for your school, but you also compete against your personal best score from previous competitions. In a way, I think this competition is competing against yourself, and today, I beat my best score so I was happy about that,” Takeuchi said.
Other national math competitions the Math Club takes part in are the AMC and AIME. In November, the club placed third in the state at the Caltech Harvey Mudd Math Competition. The club also participates in Math Day at the Beach,  a regional competition, in March. In addition, it takes part in school-level competitions such as Log1 and Rocket City Math League.
Aside from math competitions, during club meetings, students give lectures about interesting math topics, teach each other new math skills, help with homework, play math games and solve math puzzles. They also help coach Rancho San Joaquin Middle School’s Mathcounts team. The Math Club meets every Friday at lunch in Room 304 and always welcomes new members.