And The Winner Is…

NERD Math Prize for Girls 2013

Remember those friendly, classroom math competitions in school? Well, the Math Prize for Girls competition, sponsored by the Advantage Testing Foundation, is nothing like that! For one, I certainly don’t ever remember a $25,000 cash prize for the top performer!

NERD Math Prize for Girls 2013
Math Prize 2013 participants. Photo Credit: Dana J. Quigley

Yes, you heard me right. This annual math competition for high school girls, the only of its kind in the United States, boasts the largest monetary math prize for girls in the world. But money aside, the real goal of the competition is to encourage young women with exceptional potential to become the mathematical and scientific leaders of the future. These mathletes will be the professors, CEOs, and startup founders of their generation.

Math Prize participants playing Twister
Playing Twister before the big exam! Photo Credit: Dana J. Quigley

The main event is an invitation only, 2.5 hour exam. This year’s exam, to which 328 girls were invited, took place last Saturday at MIT. All girls also had to complete the AMC and AIME math qualifying exams to participate (275 girls sat for these exams). But the testing doesn’t stop there! The winners of the Math Prize also qualify to sit for the 4-hour proof-based Olympiad exam in November. Good thing these girls love math!

Math Prize Logo

While the math competition was the focus of the two-day event, the girls were able to unwind on Friday night at the NERD Center for a Games Night complete with all of the originals: Twister, Scattergories, Boggle, Blokus, and gourmet cakes (Boston Crème, Chocolate Ganache, mmmm!) provided by Jules Catering. The sense of camaraderie among the girls, many of whom are the only math stars in their communities, shined through as they relaxed and connected before the big day.

The girls were further united at the post-exam lunch and awards ceremony where Dr. Corina Tarnita, a professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton, delivered an inspiring keynote address about “Using Math to Unlock the Mysteries of Biology.” To check out more about these remarkable young women and the Math Prize, watch PBS’s short documentary on the 2010 Math Prize.

Origami fun at Games Night! Photo Credit: Dana J. Quigley

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