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High school students compete in Haskins Mathematics Competition

Posted 05/09/19

Fitchburg State Mathematics Department Chair Jenn Berg, grade 10 third-place finisher Vivian Lu (Bromfield School), grade 10 second-place finisher Maxwell Strazdus (Bromfield), and first-place finisher Nicholas Thornton (Bromfield); grade 11 third-place finisher Nathan Haberle (Nashoba Regional High School), grade 11 second-place finisher Kirsten Sjoberg (Groton-Dunstable), and grade 11 first-place finisher Elizabeth Toll (Bromfield); and grade 12 third-place finisher Kevin Yu (Bromfield), grade 12 second-place finisher Benjamin Strazdus (Bromfield), grade 12 first-plae finisher Dylan Han (Groton-Dunstable), and Fitchburg State Professor Gerald Higdon.Three hundred students from 13 area high schools recently visited the Fitchburg State University campus to take part in the 39th annual Elizabeth Haskins mathematics competition.

Students tested their skills in a challenging exam and attended sessions exploring different facets of the discipline with university faculty and students.

The highest score logged at the competition was by competition newcomer Nicholas Thornton, a 10th grader at the Bromfield School in Harvard.

First, second and third-place winners were selected in each grade. For grade 10, Thornton came in first; Maxwell Strazdus came in second; and Vivian Liu came in third. All attend the Bromfield School.

For grade 11, Elizabeth Toll of the Bromfield School came in first; Kirsten Sjoberg of Groton-Dunstable Regional High School came in second; and Nathan Haberle of Nashoba Regional High School came in third.

For grade 12, Dylan Han of Groton-Dunstable came in first; Benjamin Strazdus of the Bromfield School came in second; and Kevin Yu, also of Bromfield, came in third.

Here are two sample problems from the contest:

How many ways can the letters in “mathematics” be rearranged to a unique word (sequence of letters)?

  1. 11!
  2. 8!
  3. 11!/8
  4. 11!/8!
  5. 8!/8

The correct answer is (c); the symbol 8! means 8 times 7 times 6 times 5 times 4 times 3 times 2 times 1. For example, 4! means 4 times 3 times 2 times 1 or 24.

Here is another sample problem: How many ordered pairs of positive integers satisfy the equation 20 x + 19 y = 2019?

  1. 2
  2. 4
  3. 6
  4. 8
  5. 10

The correct answer is (c).

Participating schools in this year’s contest were Auburn, Bromfield, Clinton, Fitchburg, Groton-Dunstable, Gardner, Hudson, Leominster, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, Narragansett, Nashoba, Worcester North, and Sizer.

The contest is named for Elizabeth Haskins, a Fitchburg State mathematics professor who retired in 1978 and passed away in 2004.

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