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Release: May 25, 2001

UI to co-host North American mathematics competition June 2

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- For West High School senior Min Zhang, the 26th annual American Regions Mathematics League competition on the University of Iowa campus Saturday, June 2 will be a chance to go head to head -- literally -- with students from all over the country.

Zhang, a West High Math Club member who has taken part in the previous two ARML competitions, plans to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall. But while winning is certainly on his mind, Zhang is just as excited about meeting other students who love mathematics as much as he does.

"It's really a unique experience," says Zhang. "It's unlike any other math competition I've been to since teams from all over the country are coming. The thrill of the competition is knowing you're up against the best math students in the nation."

The ARML competition is held simultaneously at three college campuses, all of which are connected via satellite during the event. In addition to the UI campus, Penn State and San Jose State universities are hosting the competition.

The UI portion of the competition will take place at Hancher Auditorium and will bring to the campus 25 teams made up of 429 students and 65 coaches who will represent the following states: Iowa, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri/Kansas, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin. Other states, as well as provinces in Canada, will be represented at the other two campuses.

The Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development has sponsored the event at the UI since 1991.

"Non-athletic competitions have received a bad rap over the past two decades. This is unfortunate because activities such as the ARML competition provide academically talented students with a very unique opportunity for challenge within a social setting," said Susan Assouline, associate director of the Belin-Blank Center. "The students who participate in ARML thrive in this type of setting. In Iowa City, we are so fortunate to have this extremely prestigious national competition in our backyard."

ARML teams are made up of 15 high school students who challenge one another in abstract problem solving. Each team also brings two alternates, who sometimes form additional teams. The math involved is at or beyond the college calculus level.

The competition involves four rounds. In the Team Round, members work together to attempt to correctly answer 10 questions in 20 minutes. Points are given for each correct answer. The Power Question Round requires teams to work a multi-part problem that focuses on some mathematical idea. Teams have one hour to work the examples and provide proofs.

In the Individual Round, participants have 10 minutes to individually work on eight problems. In the Relay Round, teams break up into three-person sub-teams, and each member is responsible for a component of a multi-part question. Each team ends with a single answer.

As for Zhang, he says the toughest problem he faces right now is deciding what he's going to major in at MIT.

"Probably something math related, but I'm not sure yet," he says.

The Belin-Blank Center, established in 1988, specializes in programming and research to meet the educational needs of exceptionally talented children and their teachers. The center conducts an extensive roster of talent searches, precollege programs, teacher training workshops and counseling programs.