Welcome to Somerville Mathematics

Welcome to Somerville Mathematics, a blog devoted to exciting mathematical things happening in Somerville MA. I am the founder of The Somerville Mathematics Fund, www.Somervillemathematicsfund.org
The Math Fund was chartered to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville. I hope you will check out my TEDxSomerville talk on the Somerville Math Fund,
I find that there are many other interesting things happening mathematically in Somerville and I hope on this blog to have others share what they are doing. So please contact me at mathfund@gmail.com if you would like to contribute an article.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

11th Annual Scrapheap Showdown-- Sort It Out!

On October 25, 18 teams of 3 high school students each from Somerville gathered in Gantcher Gym at Tufts University to compete in the eleventh annual Scrapheap Showdown.  Along with the usual interesting “junk” in the center of the room when the students walked in, there was paper, lots of foam core, plus of string and tape.  The students were given their challenge: to build a machine that would sort “coins” from Roundlandia — spherical glass coins of different sizes, each into their own receptacle.

The teams worked intensely, building, testing and adjusting their sorting machines.  

They needed to learn how to not only sort the glass spherical coins by size, but also, they needed to sort out counterfeit coins made of plastic or metal which were the same size as one of the legal coins.

Time was called after 3 1/2 hours.  Now was the time for the competition.  
The teams were judged on the number of correct coins in the right container, counterfeits elsewhere, with a bonus for being able to have the number of each coin displayed at the end and all the coins poured into the hopper together, not one at a time.

Each of the eighteen sorters were interesting and sported differences for sorting the coins by size.  A couple of them even had a “balance” to weigh and redirect the two different counterfeit coins, others separated out the metal “coins” using a magnet.

The students' sorters competed against each other.  The team with the highest overall score, was “3 Musketeers” (Pratrik Maharjan, Anmol Saini, and Henry Schneiderbeck ).  

Second place was the “Rasberry Lime Seltzer” (Alex Costa, Gabriel Bruno Parreira, and Ben Stevens).  

Third place was “Team Stats” (Jonathan Cabral and Bishan Rai).  

Fourth and fifth place had a tie score, and fourth was determined by shortest time to complete the sort.  Fourth place was "Rag Tek" (Anoush Khan, Gavin LaWhite and Daniel Strauss).  

Fifth place was “Lady Highlanders” (YuYing Chen, Lourdes Jean-Louis and Priscila Ponce). 

Sixth place was "Siri is Undefined"  (Kristina Gurung, Tayara Romero, and Anaya Reneé Luz).

Seventh place was "÷ and Conquer" (Nikolas Protopapas, Lucas Sargent, and Luca Duclos-Orsello).

Eighth place was "e to the iπ" (David Matthews, Anmol Maini, and Richie Lavey).

The teams could choose their prize in the order they finished.    The prizes donated were: three $100 gift cards (donated by Anne Button, Chase Duclos-Orsello and Monica Fernandes), four Red Sox tickets (donated by Sam Voolich), three $50 RedBones BBQ gift cards, eight passes Museum of Fine Arts and nine passes to the Rembrandt Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts (donated by PriceWaterHouse), 3 $25 Amazon gift cards (donated by Susan Weiss) and 6 and 4 “Loaf of Bread” tickets from When Pigs Fly.

This event was for both fundraising and an intellectual challenge--all funds raised go towards a Somerville Mathematics Fund scholarship for an outstanding Somerville mathematics student.  Fundraiser Anmol Bhargo won a Newbury Comics gift card (donated by the Jay Landers) and also a $10 ice cream gift card (donated by J P Licks).  

Christina Bissereth, one of the competitors, was documenting the day for the Somerville High School newspaper and she shared her photos of the event.   Other pictures the volunteers took are posted here.

All competitors and volunteers went home with Scrapheap Showdown teeshirts donated by Gerald and Debra Bickoff of Commercial Cleaning Service.  

The other teams competing were "Team Cheng Mei," "Only Team with a Hope,"  "Team Nerrrdllz,"  "The X Factor,"  "The Trio,"  "K.R.E.,"  "The Incredibles,"  "Black Stallion," "SHS-Trio,"and "Honeybees."

Designers and refiners of the challenge were: Anne Button, Chase Duclos-Orsello, Zachary Faubion, Adam Foster, Monica Fernandes, Miriam Gates, Richard Graf, Jay Landers, Zbigniew Nitecki, Erica Voolich, Michael Voolich, and Susan Weiss.  Stanhope Framers donated the foam core and Rockler donated some of the magnets.  Michael Morgan and Dana Lee, teachers at Somerville High School, recruited student teams.  Sodexo at Suffolk University donated the food.  Amy Weiss designed the T-shirts.  

Sponsors of the event included Winter Hill Bank, RedBones BBQ, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, Commercial Cleaning Service, Jay & Jasper, and our wonderful host, Tufts University.  Various members of the Board worked on all aspects of organizing the event and worked to make it a success along with community volunteers. 

The Somerville Mathematics Fund was chartered in 2000 to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville.  In January, they will be looking for teacher grant applications; and in April, they will be looking for scholarship applications.   For more information or to volunteer or to make a donation, call 617-666-0666, e-mail mathfund@gmail.com, or go to www.somervillemathematicsfund.org.