Secret Math Society

What happens when students gather behind closed doors for a math competition? Jana Choe ’23 explores this secret math society.


Math Bowl

Jana Choe, Editor

It was a dark and stormy night. On a Friday evening, the eve of April Fools, a group of students actively abandoned the comfort of their beds to gather in the deserted Math and Science Building in Classroom 102. There, The Academy’s Secret Math Society held their first underground Math Bowl of 2023, advertised only between confidantes via hushed, untraceable whispers.

Alex Li ’23 and Andy Jiang ’24, the organizers of the secret Math Bowl and co-heads of the math club, hosted the Bowl to encourage students to express their love for math. “We knew people would come,” disclosed Alex in an interview. “There were plenty of incentives. Calculus is FUN and people would like it.”

Drawn by their academic curiosity and the burning desire to prove their mathematical skills (against fellow mathletes) instead of the free McDonald’s and Boba tea provided, the students seated themselves in this most prestigious math competition of the Governor’s Academy, entry limited by invitation only.  “It’s the most Asians in a room since Lunar New Year,” commented CL ’24, a proud member of the Society.

The Bowl was organized as a modified Swiss-system tournament. There were a total of five rounds, each consisting of six matches between two teams of two. The participants would advance to the whiteboard in Ms. Anderson’s classroom to face their fate, for better or worse — as soon as the problem was displayed on the screen, the countdown began. The first team with the correct answer won one point. If neither team solved the problem in time, the floor was opened up to anyone with the answer. 

The two top-scoring teams entered the finals, where they competed for first and second place with prizes of $100 and $25, respectively. Congratulations to Simon Krasnow ’23, Bill Chan ’23, Benzo Zhou ’23, Don Xing ’24 for making it to the finals. 

“My goal in life? I am going to be a great mathematician,” claimed one of the winners in an interview. “To prove my point, I’ll be graduating with a solid B- in math.”

The organizers of the bowl had made one grave mistake, though. They chose the final question from an MIT integral worksheet (aka Ms. Anderson’s cruel & unusual punishment). When both teams decided that they had reached the end of their limited brain capacity after struggling for 10 minutes, they agreed to split the prize. The timestamp marked 9:30 pm. 

This wasn’t their final decision, however. After further consideration, the four selfless members of the society decided to return the prize for the betterment of the mathematical world: by purchasing a Lego set for Ms. Anderson’s classroom. “We wanted to dedicate something to Ms. Anderson in honor of Calculus,” stated one of the winners. “Lego is math — look at the complex engineering skills and creativity it requires.” With such humanitarian efforts to benefit the entire school community, the members of the society succeeded in promoting the integration of the mathematical world into our everyday lives.