Earlhamites succeed in Michigan math competition | Earlham College Skip to Content
John Zamora ’22, Michael Cho ’20 and Gyeongeun “Krystal” Lee ’20 finished third.

Two Earlham teams place in the top five of annual Michigan math competition

January 31, 2019

Earlham had two teams place in the Top five of the Michigan Autumn Take Home (MATH) Challenge, a team-oriented math competition. Seventy-one undergraduates from 27 liberal arts colleges and universities across the country participated on November 3, 2018. The results were recently announced.

John Zamora ’22, Michael Cho ’20 and Gyeongeun “Krystal” Lee ’20 placed third. They are pictured above.

David Kvartskhava ’21 (left), Giorgi Kharshiladze ’19 (right) and Sebastian Slavinskas ’20 tied for fourth place.David Kvartskhava ’21 (left), Giorgi Kharshiladze ’19 (right) and Sebastian Slavinskas ’20 tied for fourth place in the event.

The three-hour MATH Challenge consisted of 10 problems. Teams were supervised and took the exam on their home campus.

“It was a contest with teams of two or three students working together,” says Tim McLarnan, Tremewan Professor of Mathematics. “This may have been part of the draw for Earlham students, and part of our success.  Our students work effectively and enjoy working together.”

“We couldn’t use outside resources to solve these problems, so we solely had to depend on our knowledge,” Lee says.

McLarnan asks, “Were we able to handle uncommonly hard tasks as groups because of what we do at Earlham? Were we free to take on the hard tasks because they were collective tasks?

“We didn't panic when we couldn't do the problems as individuals," he continued. “Maybe our students’ experience with hard problems in groups was part of what let them work effectively.”

Kharshiladze says his group tried to get at least some points on as many problems as possible.

“We had some solved entirely, and I think that is what helped us the most,” says Kvartskhava.

Zamora says that for him the contest was stressful at times.

“However, our team worked well together,” he says. “When we all were stuck on the same problem, we worked together as a team and tackled it the best way we knew how, through collaboration with some laughter.”

Lee says Earlham’s math professors have created a welcoming and engaging environment for students and learning.

“Earlham mathematics faculty are very passionate about teaching, and I always see students chatting with them about interesting math concepts that are, a lot of the time, not class material,” Lee says. “We have such a great environment in our department where students can comfortably approach faculty with questions, and faculty are happy to help them and learn with them.”

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. We rank 7th nationally by Princeton Review for Best Classroom Experience and 22nd by U.S. News and World Report for commitment to undergraduate teaching.

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.


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