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Hammond Middle School Math Contest 2014

March 12, 2014
Greetings Everyone,
Registration is now open for the Hammond Middle School Math Contest which will take place on Saturday, April 12th from 9am to 2:30pm. Here is information about the contest:
Hammond School will be the host to a Middle School Math Contest on Saturday, April 12th, from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm. This contest will be a joint collaboration between Hammond School and the Columbia Middle School Math Circle. The organizer is myself, Marcus Neal, an upper school mathematics teacher at Hammond School and the assistant coach for the South Carolina All-State Math Team.
Each school may bring as many students as want to participate, with the students divided into teams of 3 or 4. Each team from a school should be given a unique name which begins with the name of their school – for example, “The Hammond Radicals”. Students may also register as individuals if you are home schooled or if fewer than 3 students from your school will participate. The cost of participation in the contest will be $8 per student. Payments should be made out to Hammond School.
The contest will be similar in format to the Mathcounts Competitions in that there will be two individual rounds and a team round.
Details of Rounds and Scoring:
The first individual round will consist of 25 multiple choice questions with 5 answer choices for each question. The time limit for this round will be 50 minutes. Each question answered correctly in this round will earn 5 points, each incorrect answer will earn 0 points, and each question left blank will earn 1 point – this is to make the test statistically guessing neutral.
The second individual round will consist of 15 free response questions. The time limit for this round will be 45 minutes. Each correct answer in this round will earn 5 points and each incorrect or blank answer will earn 0 points.
An individual’s score will be the sum of their points from these two rounds.
Each team from each school will participate in the Team Round. This round will consist of 10 free response questions and will have a time limit of 20 minutes. Each correct answer on the team round will earn 10 points and each incorrect or blank answer will earn 0 points towards the team’s score.
A school’s score will be the sum of their four highest individual scores (regardless of which team) plus the score of whichever of their teams scores highest on the Team Round.
Awards will be given to the top three individuals, the top three schools, and the highest scoring student from each grade who did not already receive a top three individual award.
Ties will be broken for the individual awards by looking at the questions in the reverse order on the free response round until only one student has the correct answer. Ties for the team round will be broken by the looking at the questions in the reverse order on the team round.
Students from schools with fewer than 3 participants may register as individuals. They will be eligible for individual awards, and will be placed into teams with other individuals to participate in the Team Round. They are not eligible, however, for team awards.
Schedule of the Day:
  • Registration (Barks Hall Conference Room) – 9:00am – 9:30am
  • Multiple Choice Round – 9:30am – 10:20am
  • Free Response Round – 10:25am – 11:10am
  • Break – 11:10am – 11:20am
  • Team Round – 11:20am – 11:50am
  • Lunch – 11:50am – 12:30pm
  • Math Activity – 12:30pm – 1:20pm
  • Awards Ceremony (Walker Chapel) – 1:30pm-2:00pm
I hope that you will register your students to participate in this year’s contest. I believe that math contests are a great way to inspire students to study mathematics and promote higher level critical thinking. I also hope that this contest will serve as a good warm-up for students participating in the other regional and national math competitions. Here is a link to a dropbox folder containing the problems from previous years as well as answer keys:
To register for this year’s contest, go to the following website and fill in the indicated information:
The deadline to register for the contest will be at 10pm on Thursday, April 10th, 2014. You may return to the registration form to edit your information at any time. Payment for the contest should be made out to Hammond School and can be made during the registration period on the morning of the contest or it may be mailed to:
 Hammond School
 c/o Marcus Neal
 854 Galway Lane
 Columbia, SC 29209
I look forward to seeing as many of you as can make it. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Best Regards,
Marcus Neal

Middle School Math Circle Meeting on Sat., March 10th, 2012

March 8, 2012

Greetings Everyone,

The next meeting of the Columbia Middle School Math Circle will be on this Saturday, March 10th from 9am to 12noon. The Math Circle will be participating in the Purple Comet Math Meet on Saturday, April 21st from Hammond School. All students in the Columbia area whose school is not already participating in this math contest are invited to participate with the Math Circle. We will be using this week’s meeting to practice and prepare for the Purple Comet Math Meet in April. I hope to see as many of you as can make it.

Best Regards,

Marcus Neal


The USA Mathematical Talent Search, Round 1 problems are now available

September 15, 2011

The USA Mathematical Talent Search (USAMTS) is a free mathematics competition open to all United States middle and high school students.

As opposed to most mathematics competitions, the USAMTS allows students a full month , or more, to work out their solutions. Carefully written justifications are required for each problem. The problems range in difficulty from being within the reach of most high school students to challenging the best students in the nation. Students may use any materials – books, calculators, computers – but all the work must be their own. The USAMTS is run on the honor system – it is an individual competition, whose competitive role is very secondary.

Student solutions to the USAMTS problems are graded by mathematicians and comments are returned to the students. The goal of the USAMTS is to help all students develop their problem solving skills, improve their technical writing abilities, and mature mathematically while having fun. The goal is to foster not only insight, ingenuity and creativity, but also the virtue of perseverance, which is equally essential in scientific endeavors.

The first round of the USA Mathematical Talent Search is now available at


Are these two proofs essentially the same?

May 15, 2011

Here’s an interesting blog post by Timothy Gowers (one of the world’s best mathematicians) about a fairly simple question.

It’s interesting to see the depth of responses the question generated. It gives you a glimpse of how mathematics allows you to think deeply – even about simple things!


Columbia College Math Day for Girls

October 25, 2009

Here are the results from the High School level of the contest:

1st Place – Jessica Wang (Spring Valley High School)
2nd Place – Anne Cai (Porter-Gaud School)
3rd Place – Jean Guo (Hammond School)
Math Jeopardy Competition – James F. Byrnes High School

I’m unsure of the results for the Middle School level. If someone knows, please feel free to post them.

Congratulations to all the participants and to the organizers of the day.

Marcus Neal