March 14th is Pi day, honoring the ratio of a circle’s circumference and diameter: 3.14. To celebrate this unofficial holiday, 10 of the state’s top math students gathered in Providence for a competition hosted by the American Mathematical Society.
Barrington freshman Johnny Zhang won the top prize, earning $1,000 and a graphing calculator. Zhang said he plans to put some of the money towards college and tickets to the Broadway show Hamilton.
The Rhode Island-based American Mathematical society hosts the local event each year. The group also organizes a national competition. The game-show style event pits students against each other on stage, as teachers, friends and family cheer them on.
Mathematical Society spokeswoman Annette Emerson said it’s a chance to celebrate outstanding local math students, in a public way.
“They’ve worked hard at something that they love, and they’re really good at it, so they should be acknowledged,” said Emerson. “And math is one of those subjects that a lot of people don’t appreciate as much, so it’s nice to see kids who do appreciate it and love it.”
The students are competing for up to $3,000. Emerson said questions range from simple math, to problems you might find at the college level. Emerson said past winners have gone on to pursue PhD’s in mathematics.