The Georgia College Math Club took home the silver medal at this year’s Math Jeopardy tournament held at Mercer University March 10 and 11, 2017. The tournament was part of the annual meeting of the Southeastern Section of the Mathematical Association of America. Over 30 teams participated in the tournament.
The Georgia College team consisted of junior pre-engineering physics major Cason Butler, junior math and physics major Cain Gantt, junior math and physics major Spencer Shortt, and senior math major Cuyler Warnock. The team trained for the tournament weekly starting in the fall of 2016, coached by Dr. Hong Yue and Dr. Rachel Epstein of the math department. They practiced by answering questions from previous Math Jeopardy tournaments as well as by studying various mathematical topics, such as combinatorics and graph theory.
The questions in this year’s Math Jeopardy competition ranged from mathematical rhymes and anagrams to complex computational questions. In the first round, the Georgia College team dominated in the challenging category “Polar Plots,” where an equation was given in polar coordinates and the students had to describe the graph of the equation without the use of a calculator. They came in second place in the first round, but their high score allowed them to move on to the semi-finals as a wild card team. They won the semi-finals by a large margin, correctly calculating the square root of 20 to the nearest hundredth in Final Jeopardy.
The final round of Math Jeopardy was in an auditorium with hundreds of spectators. The categories included “Pascal’s Triangle” and “Always Improper,” which consisted of solving improper integrals. The team from Austin Peay State University in Tennessee was leading when the Georgia College team landed on the Daily Double and made the bold move of wagering everything. The Daily Double question asked to calculate the sum of the number of faces, edges and vertices of an icosahedron, which the team had just discussed the day before. When the team’s answer was confirmed to be correct, the audience erupted in applause. However, the Austin Peay team also gave an impressive performance and won the game with a score of 8801 to Georgia College’s 8800. Georgia College team members were awarded silver medals and a trophy, which is on display in the Math Department office.
"Participating in Math Jeopardy was a fun way for the Georgia College students to learn about a lot of mathematical topics that they hadn't seen before," said Dr. Rachel Epstein, assistant professor, mathematics. "Solving difficult problems during the competition without being told what techniques to use helped strengthen their problem solving skills, teamwork skills and confidence in their abilities."