WCSU to host math event for high school students
Who wants to be a mathematician?

DANBURY, CONN. Western Connecticut State Universitywill host the American Mathematical Society’s high school competition “Who Wants to be a Mathematician?” in Ives Concert Hall on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.
Making its way to Connecticut for the first time, “Who Wants to be a Mathematician?” is a regional event that travels to universities and science centers in different states, connecting high school math stars with a competitive yet entertaining game that culminates in a national showcase. Since 2001, nearly 600 students nationwide have won more than $400,000 in cash and prizes. Similar to television’s “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” the game allows qualifying students the chance to showcase their math talents and meet other students with similar interests all while having fun and being cheered on by an audience of teachers, classmates, family and friends. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be at 9 a.m. in Ives Concert Hall, White Hall on the WCSU Midtown campus, 181 White St., Danbury.

Mike Breen, the mathematical society’s public awareness officer and co-creator of the game, hosts the competition, which offers multiple-choice questions regarding common high school topics such as algebra, number theory, combinatorics, geometry, trigonometry, probability, math history and logic.

During a visit to Michigan to give a talk at Albion College last March, Dr. Stavros Christofi, associate professor in the WCSU Department of Mathematics, got a chance to watch a regional game held at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He was impressed with the energetic atmosphere of the event, which featured an assortment of spirited students, faculty and family members rooting for their teams. He was determined to bring this kind of enthusiasm to WCSU.

“Our goal was to attract as many high schools as we could from Connecticut and even some from New York,” Christofi said.” Following a qualifying test, students from 14 high schools were selected to participate: Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Greenwich, New Milford, Newtown, Nonnewaug, Pawling (N.Y.), Pomperaug, Shepaug Valley, Simsbury, Immaculate and Loomis Chaffee.

The American Mathematical Society, which bills itself as the leading pure mathematics society in the world, provides up to $3,000 in cash prizes to the first winner, $500 for second place, and other gifts for succeeding high scorers.

“The game will show students that math can be fun, and an exhibit of research posters will demonstrate that math is everywhere,” Cristofi said. “Hopefully the atmosphere will instill even further a sense of pride in student attendees for their schools and math stars, just like athletic events do.”

Participants and visitors will be offered a campus tour to familiarize themselves with some of the educational activities, in which WCSU math students are involved.

In addition to the competition, the university will offer a brief introduction to WCSU’s honors program and scholarships, and lectures on the actuarial profession and on price optimization, along with a display of award-winning research posters by Western math students and alumni.

Other prizes will be given, including one to the high school that brings the most supporters and another to the school with the most enthusiastic supporters.

Sponsors include Newtown Savings Bank, the WCSU math department, the WCSU chapter of scientific research society Sigma Xi, Texas Instruments, Maplesoft, John Wiley & Sons and the Art of Problem Solving.

For more information, visit the Department of Mathematics homepage or the AMS “Who Wants to be a Mathematician” homepage.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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