Mathletics proves to be a tough cookie

By Morgan Hodder

We took a test. We ate some cookies. We were Mathletes.

BCC competed in the AMATYC (American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges) national test on Oct. 22, an exam challenging the mathematical reasoning, discerning and creative abilities of two-year college students.

“BCC has taken first in state for the last nine years out of 10 in AMATYC scores,” said Dale Hoffman, math professor at BCC. Mr. Hoffman has been involved with the AMATYC since it was just forming in 1973.

Hoffman, along with other BCC math professors Martha Stevens, Jennifer Laveglia, Larry Susanka, and Sunmi Ku, administered the test along with juice and cookies Wednesday.

Students who take it are called “mathletes” and have 50 minutes to take the test.

Students go for the social aspect, Hoffman explains, even though it used to be much more social, when professors and students could discuss the test for hours after having completed it. Now however, there is a worry that a student could finish it in one college, and if given a chance, form solutions with a professor shortly afterward, and then send the answers to a friend in another state who may not have taken it yet.

Anyone who enjoys solving problems should take the test, said Hoffman. One such student was Sean Smolen, a BCC student who has taken all the math classes BCC has, and is now in the last one offered: Linear Algebra.

“The test is more logic than math,” said Smolen. “Each problem is really unique, you have to creatively design a way to solve it. You can’t just solve it with an equation, you must look for patterns; the test stresses that math is logic. It was fun.”

Smolen said he is haunted by thinking he may have misread one of the questions for which he came up with a beautiful tactic for solving. Some of the problems are hardly math at all, Smolen said. He believed one of them was a riddle.

The problem was similar to this: Jimmy has nine coins worth 45 cents. Frank asks Jimmy how pennies he has, and when Frank replies truthfully, Jimmy says