by Lia Tian, Irvine High School, Class of 2017
Young girls from across the Orange County area participated in the sixth annual All Girls Math Tournament held at St. Anne School on Sunday, May 3.
As part of the effort to combat gender inequality in STEM fields, Orange County Math Circle (OCMC) organizes a tournament designed to foster mathematical interests in young girls. Each year, the All-Girls Math Tournament provides an opportunity for girls from third to eighth grade to compete with others sharing similar interests. This year, OCMC has expanded the tournament to a new location in San Diego.
Preparations for the tournament began weeks before the competition day. The copious amount of work assigned to student volunteers included delegating competition day tasks, securing venues, and printing tests and papers. Up until the day of the math tournament, tournament organizers checked and double checked the competition day plant, and the emcees prepared and rehearsed their presentations.
“As emcees, Angelina and I had to meet every week to discuss how we were going to write the script and create the Prezi presentation,” said Beckman high school freshman Michelle Xu. “It was difficult to find the rights words to present to the gifted students.”
Before the tournament began, student volunteers gathered to set up the gym. When they completed, tables draped with pink table cloths crammed the gym, explosions of colorful posters plastered the walls above the bleachers, and bunches of pink balloons adorned various areas of the gym.
As the trickle of tournament participants grew to a steady stream, the gym filled with a palpable excitement. At 1:00, the tournament officially started. After parents were dismissed, students were instructed on how the tournament would progress.
The format of the All-Girls Math Tournament consisted of three rounds—the individual Sprint and Target Rounds, and the Team Round. Trophies were awarded for the top three individuals in each grade level, and a bucket of candy was presented to the top two teams in each grade level.
During the Awards Ceremony, guest speaker Professor Wilder-Smith, the Director of Dentistry, Oral Medicine and Oral Oncology at the Beckman Laser Institute and Chao Family Cancer Center at the University of California, Irvine, inspired students with a presentation on her work with lasers and cancer detection. While Prof. Smith did not go into detail about the process of her research, her message was clear: work hard towards your goal, even if others discourage you from doing so.
Of the almost 200 girls who participated in the tournament, only some walked away with an award. But, the trophies and the candy were merely frivolities. What mattered was that the girls were passionate about what they did, and that were determined to work hard to achieve their dreams, not matter what challenges they faced.