Top math students compete at the beach


Photo Courtesy of John Farley

Junior Morteza Zolfaghari, Seniors Daniel Sun, Andrew Lee, Yucheng Liu, junior Matthew Kim, and Freshman Benjamin Chang, bravely face the individual assessments.

There is an electrifying tension in the air as teams of brilliant young minds huddle around tables, whispering to one another, sharing ideas and contributing to the entropy of intelligent thought in the room. Somewhere, a clock ticks down with each second audibly adding to the permeating atmosphere of urgency.

These students are participating in the annual Math Day at the Beach competition, hosted by Cal State Long Beach. This year, students from Woodbridge won third place in division B: seniors Daniel Sun, Yucheng Liu and Andrew Lee; juniors Matthew Kim and Morteza Zolfaghari; and freshman Benjamin Chang.

“It’s a great experience,” Kim said. “The questions are very challenging and difficult, more than what we’re used to seeing.”

Each year, 38 schools send six of their best and brightest math students to compete, solving a varying array of problems to test their skills to the limits. Competing students come from cities in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.

The competition is split into three sections. First there are individual multiple choice and free response rounds to measure  each competitor’s raw skills, followed by free response team rounds to challenge the teams as a whole.

All scores are grouped to determine each respective school’s ranking.

“The team round is just all of us working on eight problems,” Sun said. “It was pretty tough, but we pulled through in the end.”

Sun was recognized for having competed in the contest for four years in a row.

This year Sun also managed to rank at 16.5 out of all the contestants.

“We didn’t do any specific training [prior to the competition] because it’s based on the skills that the students develop as they take classes,” teacher and team adviser John Farley said. “So I just picked the best students that did well in class.”

According to Farley, Woodbridge has been involved in math contests since the school opened in 1980.

“Any time students have a chance to participate in this contest, I think it’s really good development for them because they’re exposed to problems that are quite different from textbook problems,” Farley said. “I think it helps them in their learning of mathematics to be able to try these more difficult problems.”