posted August 1, 2008

Student Team Wins Mathematical Contest

A team of four Hope College mathematics students won the "Jeopardy" contest at the national MathFest conference in Madison, Wis., on Wednesday, July 30.

The members of the Hope team were senior Forrest Gordon of Rockford; senior Dan Lithio of Downers Grove, Ill.; sophomore Zachary Mitchell of Stevensville; and junior Blair Williams of Fenton.  They defeated teams from Lafayette College, Texas A&M and MountUnionCollege.

The competition's questions tested knowledge of mathematics, both in problem solving and general history.  The Hope team went into "Final Jeopardy" with the most points and then answered the final question correctly to take the victory.

Their competition included a fellow Hope student.  Ryan Johnson, a senior from Tomah, Wis., was a member of the team from Texas A&M, where he participated in a summer research program this summer.

The Jeopardy competition anticipated the formal start of this year's MathFest, which is the national meeting of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and running Thursday-Saturday, July 31-Aug. 2.  In other activity during the conference, Lithio gave a talk, "How to serve a volleyball - mathematical modeling of volleyball dynamics," and faculty member Dr. Tim Pennings is giving an invited talk with his canine co-author, Elvis, in conjunction with receiving the association's George Polya Award with co-author Dr. Ronald Minton of Roanoke College for their article "Do Dogs Know Bifurcations?"

Stephanie Edwards of the Hope mathematics faculty is also attending the conference. She mentored Mitchell in a graph theory problem this past summer, while Pennings mentored Gordon, Lithio and Williams in modeling and analysis research.