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Aug. 19, 2012

Blazer wins bronze at international math competition

by Emma Yeager, Online News Editor
From Aug. 9 to Aug. 13, junior Gabriella Studt competed alongside seven other American girls who represented the U.S. at the China Girls Math Olympiad (CGMO) in Guangzhou, China.

The U.S. team consisted of Cynthia Day, Courtney Guo, Laura Pierson, Studt, Danielle Wang, Alicia Weng, Victoria Xia and Jingyi Zhao. The U.S. team brought home three gold medals, four silver medals and one bronze medal, which Studt won. Her teammate, Xia attained a perfect score to win a gold medal, her second medal in two years at the CGMO. Studt's other teammate, Pierson, at 12 years old, is the youngest American ever to compete in the CGMO.

The eight members of the U.S. team display their medals. Studt is fourth from the left. Courtesy of MSRI
The eight members of the U.S. team display their medals. Studt is fourth from the left.
According to Anne Pfister of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), a sponsor of the U.S. team, this year was the first that all competitors were awarded a medal. The highest-scoring 10 percent of competitors received gold, all scores above a 75 out of 120 points received silver and the remaining entries received bronze medals.

Studt, who competed at the Olympiad for the first time, had mixed feelings about the exam. "I was a little disappointed by the exam, because I felt that the problems were not nearly as interesting as the ones I had seen from previous years," she said. "However, I was very happy with my solution to [question] number one, the only algebra problem on the entire exam. Also, I was awarded full points on questions number four and number six, both of which were combinatorics problems."

The CGMO is an Olympiad-style math competition that was started in 2002 to encourage girls to develop their math skills. Medals were awarded based on the results of a two-day exam held at Guangdong Experimental High School. On each day of the exam, participants had four hours to solve four proof-based problems.

The members of the U.S. team qualified for the CGMO based on their results in the 2012 USA Mathematical Olympiad. Then, they prepared at the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for three weeks in June.

The events at the CGMO, however, were not restricted to mathematics, as the contestants also participated in aerobics and domino competitions. "It was especially fun to spend time with the other girls on the U.S. team, and to get to know them better," Studt said. "When we weren't taking the exam, my team participated in a domino contest, as did most of the other teams at the Olympiad, and had a blast."

The American teammates also participated in some sightseeing together in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. "I would probably say that the best thing about the competition was getting to see another country and meet other high school students there. Specifically, I loved trying new foods, sightseeing in the city of Guangzhou and learning a little bit of Chinese," Studt said.

In a press release from the MSRI, MAA Executive Director Michael Pearson praised the American teammates and their coaching program. "The team received excellent preparation at the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program," Pearson said. "We are pleased to be able to train such an exceptional group of young women for this challenging international competition."



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