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Math competition draws upstate girls to Cornell

By: Linda B. Glaser,  Cornell Chronicle
Tue, 05/08/2018

Thirty-four four-person teams from 18 schools in upstate New York competed April 29 in Girls’ Adventures in Math (GAIM), a team-based math competition for girls in grades three through eight held at Cornell University and 10 other locations nationwide. The national results have just been announced, and Ithaca’s Cayuga Heights Elementary School finished first in the Cornell competition Elementary Division – and was one of the top five upper elementary teams nationally. Ithaca’s DeWitt Middle School won the Cornell middle school category and ranked among the top 20 middle school teams nationally.

“We’re proud of how well our competing teams ranked among the hundreds of teams from across the country. Watching the girls throughout the afternoon, I saw teamwork, fun and pride. We’re grateful to all the volunteers who helped make it such a success,” said Robert Kleinberg, Cornell associate professor of computer science, who organized the event in collaboration with Mary Ann Huntley, senior lecturer and director of outreach in the mathematics department.

GAIM participants were challenged to engage in “creative, strategic, out-of-the-box problem-solving” to win. The teams, from a region ranging from Syracuse to Big Flats, competed in solving challenging math puzzles that called for creativity and ingenuity. After the competition, they participated in strategy games, puzzles and arts/crafts activities in the Groos Family Atrium in Klarman Hall.

Many of the winning teams included members who attend the weekly Ithaca Girls’ Math Circle, an outreach project of the Cornell University math department. The number of teams was partly due to Laura Jones, senior research associate and Math Circle leader, who organized two of the winning teams and encouraged other local coaches to organize teams.

“Because I take all comers in math clubs, I have a mix of students: some who believe they are innately talented at math and some who think they aren’t ‘good at it’ but wish they were. I think GAIM demonstrated to these girls that with exposure to problem-solving, with attention and interest, you can actually become good at it,” Jones said.

The GAIM event at Cornell was supported by the Department of Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Computer Science as well as the national GAIM organization.

GAIM 2018 Cornell University winners:

Upper Elementary Division:

  • First Place: Cayuga Heights Elementary
  • Second Place: Northeast Elementary School
  • Second Place: South Hill Elementary School

Middle School Division:

  • First Place: DeWitt Middle School
  • Second Place: DeWitt Middle School
  • Third Place: Boynton Middle School

Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.

This story also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle. 

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