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ool student competes in semi-finals of "Want to be a Mathematician?"

6:57 PM, Jan 4, 2011   |    comments
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Osprey, Florida -- A Pine View School 11th grader will participate in the semi-finals of the American Mathematical Society's national competition, Friday, January 7th in New Orleans.

For more information, read the following press release sent out by the Sarasota School District:

OSPREY - Anthony Grebe, a junior at Pine View School, is one of 10 high school students from across the U.S. who will compete in the semi-finals of the American Mathematical Society's national competition, "Who Wants to Be a Mathematician." The event will take place from 10:30 a.m.-noon, Friday (Jan. 7) at the 2011 Joint Mathematics Meetings of the AMS and the Mathematical Association of America, an annual conference of about 6,000 mathematicians. This year's event will be held in New Orleans.

Grebe and nine other high school math scholars will travel to the competition from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The two back-to-back semi-final rounds of the competition will pit five students against each other; Grebe will compete in one of these two rounds. After the two semi-final rounds, the two winning students will compete one-to-one in the final round. Questions will be selected from subjects including algebra, trigonometry, geometry, probability, logic and the history of mathematics.

The winners will receive $5,000 (first place), $2,000 (second place), $1,000 (third place) and $500 (fourth and fifth place). A matching amount will also be given to the math departments of the contestants' schools; the top winner will receive $5,000 and another $5,000 for his or her school, for a total of $10,000. Winners also will get prizes from sponsors, including a graphing calculator, Maple 14 software and math books. The AMS also reimburses each contestant for the cost of food, lodging and travel for two people, and encourages the students' parents or guardians to attend.

Although Grebe is expecting tough competition, including the defending champion of last year's "Who Wants to be a Mathematician" contest, his teachers say he is ready for the challenge.

For the last two years, Grebe has qualified for the extremely difficult American Invitational Mathematics Exam and the USA Mathematics Olympiad, sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America. The first round of that competition is the American Mathematics Contest, a 75-minute, 25-question exam. As a sophomore, Grebe scored a perfect score on the test. Then he took the American Invitational Mathematics Examination, a three-hour, 15-question exam. He was invited to take the USA Mathematics Olympiad, a two-day, nine-hour, six-question exam.

In addition to pursuing his interest in math, Grebe is a member of Pine View's Academic Olympics team and has played violin in the school's chamber orchestra and the Sarasota Youth Orchestra.

"Anthony is an amazing young man, in addition to being an amazing mathematician," said Ann Hankinson, who taught Grebe in Advance Placement Calculus last year at Pine View. "He is certainly the best student I have taught in 29 years of teaching upper level mathematics. In addition, he is patient and calm in explaining concepts to anyone around him who doesn't understand something. He excels in every class he has taken here; I'm so happy to have had him in my class." 

Hankinson added that she knew Grebe as an eighth-grade student at Pine View when she coached the Math Counts team. "He was the top scorer at the county level, but even more impressive was that in our practices where he would get up like a little math professor and explain to other students - always in age-appropriate language for his audience - how to do problems that anyone missed."

Hankinson said another example of Grebe's advanced math skills surfaced last year when he submitted an answer to an essay question on an advanced calculus practice test.

"The test was prepared by the College Board, the administrators of the national SAT test," noted Hankinson. "When I marked his answer wrong, Anthony presented a very nice, typed explanation as to why his solution was correct and the College Board's solution was incorrect. I sent it to several mathematics professors, who concurred with his argument, so I sent it to the College Board. Although I have not received a response, all of the mathematicians who reviewed his work were impressed that a 10th-grader could reason and write on such a high level."

Ken Jukes, who currently teaches Grebe in Calculus III, a college-level dual-enrollment course offered at Pine View through the State College of Florida, describes Grebe as "the best student I have met at the undergraduate level in over 40 years. He is also an outstanding straight-A student in other subjects across the arts and sciences, and is incredibly modest and popular with his fellow students. He is always ready to participate in class and point things out.

"His insight is quite unique and he has drafted his first research paper, an investigation following his reading about the history of calculus. On his own initiative Anthony drafted a paper in which he investigates whether modern calculus could have been developed without the influences of Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz and their concepts of limits. I am working with him to sharpen this up for possible publication in an academic mathematics journal."

A "Virtual Mathematics Pep Rally" will be held for upper-level math students from 10:15 a.m. to noon Friday in the Pine View Auditorium. The students will watch a live webcast of "Who Wants to be a Mathematician" and cheer Grebe on in the competition. The webcast, which is scheduled to start at 10:30, will be available at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/who-wants-to-be-a-mathematician-national-contest

Isabel Mascarenas

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