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Local Math Whizzes Take Part in Prestigious Summer Program

Fourteen area students, including two from Cupertino, were invited to a month-long program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, training alongside some of the nation's top math competitors.

Editor's Note: This article was submitted by Irene Zhang, mother of program participant Andrew He. It has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

By Irene Zhang

In early June, agents at San Jose International Airport check-in counters were surprised to see 14 Bay Area students jetting off before the school year was over.

Among the group were two students from Cupertino, Andrew He, a freshman at and Meghal Gupta, an 8th grader at Stratford School, as well as students from Campbell, Palo Alto, San Jose, Pleasanton, Oakland and Fremont.

Two participants, Cynthia Day and Steven Hao, are students at Lynbrook High School.

These intrepid youngsters, drawing quizzical glances from airport staff, were headed to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as invitees of the 2012 U.S.A. Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program (MOSP). They represented about 25 percent of the total number of middle and high school students in the nation asked to participate in the program.

MOSP is considered one of the highest honors of mathematical achievement for American students. According to MOSP’s website, the month-long program consists of rigorous curriculum designed to broaden students’ scope of mathematics and better prepare them for a potential spot on the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) team.

An invitation to MOSP is only extended to the top finishers of the U.S.A. Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO) and the U.S.A. Junior Mathematical Olympiad (USAJMO) tests.

He has finished 2nd in the nation two years in a row in the USAJMO test and was a member of the MathCounts 2011 national championship team.

Before students can even get to the USAMO and USAJMO level, they must complete testing through the American Mathematics Contests (AMC) 10/12 and the American Invitational Mathematics Examination.

These qualifying tests are so difficult that only about 5 percent of the 210,000 participants achieve a National Honor Roll grade on the AMC 12 test, which requires a score of 100 out of 150 possible points.  

The USAMO and USAJMO tests themselves were a two-day event, comprised of two four and half hour exams with three problems each.

Of all the USAMO and USAJMO participants, only about 56 were selected for MOSP. The top six MOSP members will be selected to represent the U.S. in the IMO, held in July in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Here is a complete list of participants:

  • Eugene Chen, a sophomore at Amador Valley High School
  • Evan Chen, a sophomore at Irvingtong High School
  • Lewis Chen, a sophomore at Mission San Jose High School
  • Cynthia Day, a student at Lynbrook High School
  • Meghal Gupta, an eighth grader at Stratford School
  • Steven Hao, a sophomore at Lynbrook High School
  • Andrew He, a freshman at Monta Vista High School
  • Aaron Lin, a sophomore at Mission San Jose High School
  • Jeffrey Ling, a junior at Palo Alto High School
  • Laura Pierson, a sixth grader and member of the Berkeley Math Circle
  • Ashwath Thirumalai, a freshman at Harker School
  • Danielle Wang, a freshman at Prospect High School
  • Jerry Wu, a sophomore at Mission San Jose High School
  • Yuanqing (Kai) Xiao, a junior at Bellarmine Preparatory School

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