COVID changed everything: the way we work. The way we play. And how MAA celebrates its award winners. So today, in the heart of the NYC financial district we brought together United States Math Olympiad (USAMO), European Girls Math Olympiad (EGMO), and International Math Olympiad (IMO) winners, together with their families, for a celebration of mathematics. Jane Street Capital hosted the event with activities, swag, and plenty of food.
The morning included talks by Jane Street employees, games, connected math questions, and a tour of their facilities. Students saw how their love of problem solving could be harnessed for a career in finance.
Afternoon was “free time,” but most of us rushed back to the hotel to change for the evening festivities.
A social hour in the Jane Street cafeteria was followed by a formal program of celebration. It was my honor to emcee. In Young Cho, a Jane Street trader, welcomed the celebrants with her own stories friendships formed during mathematics competitions. She ended her welcome with wise words from her HS alma mater, “Goodness without knowledge… is weak and feeble, yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous….” She urged the winners to work hard and use their intellectual gifts for good.
I welcomed the Olympians and their families with the help of a hexahexaflexagon that I designed to flex through the logos of MAA, EGMO, IMO, Jane street and more. (Similar to my introduction of Lara Pudwell’s Math Encounters June 2021.) I folded more than enough hexaflexagons for each Olympian to take one home. Somehow, I managed to give them all away and consequently have no pictures to share. If you are interested, I will fold one tomorrow, take pictures, and make the file available so you can print, cut, fold and assemble your own.
The lesson from the day: Games can be an important foil for mathematical thought. Start simple. Understand deeply. Ask interesting questions. You might be surprised by the answers and how useful they can be. That….and remember to play. The Olympians showed us the way, by merging several tangle puzzles and making a jump rope. Much laughter was had by all.
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