Math Talent Quest Contest

March 23, 2012

I will be sponsoring any students from SC that would like to participate in a new math contest called the Math Talent Quest. The contest is open to students currently in grades 1-8.  It will be held on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012 at Hammond School at 4:00pm. Please contact me for more information if you, or someone you know, is interested in participating.

The website with information and some sample problems is here: http://www.mathtalentquest.org/


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


Mathcounts Practice Problems

January 23, 2012

Looking for problems for Mathcounts practice? Here is a great site for problems: http://mathcounts.saab.org/mc.cgi


Middle School Math Circle Dates

January 21, 2012

Greetings Everyone,

Here is the schedule for the Middle School Math Circle meetings for the next few months:

Saturday, February 18th

Saturday, March 10th

Saturday, April 21st

Saturday, May 12th

The meetings will all take place at Hammond School from 9am to 12noon, and the cost for each meeting is $25.

Marcus Neal


Hammond Middle School Math Contest on Feb, 4th

January 20, 2012

Greetings Everyone,

I am pleased to announce that Hammond School in Columbia, SC will be the host to a Middle School Math Contest on Saturday, February 4th, 2012, 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 organizers of the contest will be John Rushman, a former middle school mathematics teacher at Crayton Middle School and Hammond School, and Marcus Neal, an upper school mathematics teacher at Hammond School and assistant coach of the South Carolina All-State Math Team.

Each participating school may bring 4 to 12 students – with the students divided into teams of 3 or 4. (The only exception being if a school brings exactly 5 students, then they should be divided into a team of 3 and a team of 2). Each team from a school should be given a unique name which begins with the name of their school – for example, “The Hammond Radicals”. The cost of participation in the contest will be $10 per student.

The contest will be similar in format to the Mathcounts Competitions in that there will be two individual rounds and a team round. For those who participated last year, the problems will be a bit easier than last year, but with a few problems that will still challenge your best students. This year we will have more prizes and awards, including a new TI-Npsire CX for the first place individual, prizes for each sponsor, and lots of door prizes!

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 for practice only.


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 – 1:15pm

Speaker or Math Activity – 1:15pm – 2:00pm

Awards Ceremony (Hammond School Chapel) – 2:00pm – 2:30pm

I hope that you will consider bringing a group of students to participate in this year’s contest. Math contests are a great way to inspire students to study mathematics outside of the classroom, and they promote higher level critical thinking and problem solving skills. I also hope that this contest will serve as a good warm-up contest for those students participating in the Mathcounts Chapter Competition in February.

To register for this contest, please go to the following website and fill in the indicated information:


The deadline to register for the contest will be 10pm on Friday, January 27th, 2011, but please respond earlier than the deadline if you can so that I can begin making preparations based on the number of students we might expect. You can go back to the website to edit your information after the registration deadline but before 10pm on Wednesday, February 1st.

Payment for the contest should be made out to Hammond School. Payment may be made during the registration period on the morning of the contest, or may be mailed in advance to:

Hammond Middle School Math Contest

c/o Marcus Neal

854 Galway Lane

Columbia, SC 29209


I look forward to hearing your response,

Marcus Neal (Contest Coordinator)

Teacher of Mathematics

Hammond Upper School



Moody’s Mega Math Challenge 2012

November 6, 2011

Registration now open for Moody’s Mega Math Challenge 2012!

Registration now open for Moody’s Mega Math Challenge 2012

Moody’s Mega Math Challenge is an Internet-based, applied math competition for high school students. The contest is free and open to high school juniors and seniors in 29 states in the Eastern United States. Working in teams of three to five, participants must solve an open-ended, applied math-modeling problem focused on a realistic issue—in 14 hours. Scholarships totaling $115,000 toward the pursuit of higher education are awarded to the top teams. The real-world focus of the competition introduces students to applied math as a powerful problem-solving tool and, potentially, as a viable and exciting profession. Challenge weekend is set for March 3 and 4, 2012. Register at the website below.

Complete details, sample problems, and archives of previous Challenges are available at: http://M3Challenge.siam.org


AMC8 Practice Tests and Materials

October 8, 2011

Here are some AMC 8 Practice Tests for you to use to prepare for the AMC 8:


The 2011 exam will be given on Tuesday, November 15th. If your school is not participating in the AMC 8, you may take it with the Columbia Math Circle at Hammond School on Nov. 15th. We will administer the exam from 3:45-4:45. Send me a message at gauss202@yahoo.com if you are interested in taking the exam with the Math Circle.