Math Whizzes Through Interstellar Rankings


Matches in “Math Madness” are played in real time. Participants can view the clock ticking down as well as both their team’s and the opposing team’s scores throughout the thirty-minute game. (Jared Margolis)

“It’s kind of like March Madness…except for math!”

At least that’s how senior Xavier Gonzalez describes Math Madness, the online competition in problem solving that Mathematical Problem Solving Club (MAPS) participates in each week.

“Math Madness is awesome because the ticking of the clock, the school mascots and top-scorer lists make it seem like a real sport,” Gonzalez said.

Every week, more than 11,000 participants from all over the nation, including students from SJS, compete in teams to answer ten math problems in 30 minutes.

“I enjoy Math Madness because it provides instantaneous feedback for problems,” junior Luke Kramer said. “As soon as you complete one, it tells you whether you answered it correctly.”

Each round occurs at a specific time (typically at 8:00 p.m. CST), allowing for team unity and camaraderie that benefit overall results.

“You’re not competing against anyone you know, so it really builds team spirit,” sophomore Amy Dong said. “It’s also nice to see our own national rankings if we make it in the Top 1000, and the national rankings for our school.”

SJS learned of Math Madness when math teacher Bobbie Oldfield heard about the competition from the creators of the AMC (American Mathematical Contest). The organization wanted to launch an online math competition to rival others like the Collaborative Problem-Solving Contest.

After participating in four preliminary rounds, SJS is now ranked first in Texas and seventh in the nation based on the scores of the top 15 players. Despite losing to California’s Monte Vista High School in the first round, the team won three consecutive matches against Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet (Calif.), Dulles (Sugarland, Tex.), and Kimball Union Academy (N.H.).

The six-week playoff round began Nov. 10, with SJS winning their first match against St. George’s (R.I.). MAPS is in contention for the national title with five more round to go.

“We’ve had some pretty exciting matches, including a practice round against a team from Lincoln, Nebraska,” Kramer said. “We won by 0.03 points.”

Many SJS students are already involved with Math Madness, but more are always welcome.

“Just like any real sport, we are contending for a worthwhile title and need all the help we can get from anybody interested in math,” Gonzalez said. “The competitions take thirty minutes max, so the commitment is tiny, but the possible payoff is extraordinary.”

For more information, visit the Interstellar site or contact Ms. Oldfield to get involved.

Kanchana Raja
Staff Writer

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