Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 2013 Update

Dear Bard Math Circle Community,

In November last year the Bard Math Circle offered the AMC 8 Math Competition for the first time, and had a fantastic turnout. Forty eight middle school students from around the area came to Bard College for this national exam, and worked on 25 mathematical problems in a 40 minute period.

The problems were challenging far beyond what students normally encounter in school: the median score was 9 problems correct (there was no penalty for a wrong answer or for guessing). For some this was a humbling experience (but not a humiliating one, I hope). There was a excitement about sharing solutions at our December math circles, and a lot of learning going on.

The AMC 8 Results are in!

According to the official report on the exam, there was one perfect score at Bard, by Sanath Kumar, who traveled to Bard from Westchester County with his family. Sanath was 9 years old at the time of AMC 8, and has since turned 10. He is in grade 6 at Our Montessori School. Congratulations, Sanath, and thanks for taking the contest at Bard College!

The next highest scores were:
  • Michael Liu, a student at Bailey MS in Kingston, grade 8. 
  • Katie Houston, a student at Miller MS in Kingston, grade 7.
  • Twins Erik Simon and Henry Cowherd of Ichabod Crane MS in Valatie, both grade 7.
A hearty congratulations to every student who took the exam! You learned some math along the way, and had fun doing it. For links to nicely written solutions, please see previous posts. 
If you would like a printed solution packet (while they last), then come by a math circle for a copy. If you'd like to know your score, please send a friendly email to or stop by the next math circle meeting in Kingston on February 9.

The Parent Survey

While the middle school students were taking the exam their parents filled out a survey. The results were very positive (which is called a selection bias in statistical studies) but gave lots of useful information towards future programming.

There was interest in:
  • a more sustained math circle experience, such as, a 10-session semester program or summer day program. 
  • math circles at other libraries and as an after-school program at schools around the area.
  • volunteering for the Bard Math Circle.
Please follow our blog ( and our email announcements for information on future initiatives based on the survey. Thanks for filling out the survey, parents!

Alcumus for online learning

As an informal first step towards a more sustained math circle experience, I invite those math circle students who are focused on solving challenging problems to sign up for Alcumus, a free online problem system offered by the Art of Problem Solving. Alcumus has over 5,000 challenging math problems with full solutions, and is great for student practice. If you're interested in helping me try out this system, please do the following:
  1. Open a free account on the Art of Problem Solving website,
  2. If you are under 13 years old, you will be directed to print out the COPPA form for your parents to fill out and send in. This is important, so please do it, even though it will take longer.
  3. Log into Alcumus by clicking on the link in the top navigation menu. Try some problems.
  4. Email me with your Art of Problem Solving name so I can add you to the Bard Math Circle course.
  5. Start solving! I will seek ways to connect your online work with our Kingston Library meetings, while not detracting from everyone's mathematical experience, even if they are not problem-focused.
If you have trouble getting started on the system, please email me, and I'll try to help.
The Alcumus system is open to anyone, so once we get it going, it will be fun to invite friends, siblings, parents and teachers.

Here's to our math circles in 2013!

Japheth Wood
Bard Math Circle co-director