The Al Kalfus Long Island Math Fair poses unique challenges to those choosing to accept its rigorous demands. Huntington High School students have traditionally been among participants in the nationally renowned program.
“The Math Fair is an excellent way to help students who have an interest in mathematics explore topics outside the realm of the traditional required mathematics courses,” according to the website of the Nassau County Association of Mathematics Supervisors. “It gives top students the opportunity to do (create) original mathematics for themselves.”
Huntington junior Andrew Knowles won a gold medal in this year’s competition, capturing first place for his project titled “An Inductive Proof of Sperner’s Lemma in One, Two and Higher Dimensions” was viewed as being “extremely high level.” It explored an area of math not typically covered in a basic high school curriculum.
“The Math Fair is really cool because you get to explore a part of math that you’re interested in and actually have fun putting together something new, which isn’t always possible in the classroom,” Mr. Knowles said. “Then at the actual competition, you get to see what other people have done and learn about even more topics that you’ve never even heard about before.”
Many of Huntington’s top students have participated in the initiative over the years. Looking back, several current seniors maintain that the experience was valuable and has paid dividends.
“The Al Kalfus LI Math Fair is a bit different from many other science research competitions on the Island,” said Hadley Clayton, a longtime participant in Huntington High School’s science research program and the valedictorian of the Class of 2019. “The distinction is somewhat obvious, being that it is solely for math research; a place where those interested in math can simultaneously explore and create.”
Ms. Clayton and classmate Haley Mortell participated in the LI Math Fair program as underclassmen and remember it well. “Competitors conduct in-depth research in very specific areas of math that interest them and share it with fellow students and judges,” Ms. Clayton said. “They are judged on overall content, presentation of the content and their knowledge of the subject.”
Some Huntington participants have taken an outside class on the way to go about pursuing math research while others arrived at the program with well-developed ideas on what they wanted to study.
“It was interesting to see how math can be applied to nearly every aspect of everyday life,” said Ms. Mortell while recalling her experience. “There is a lot of freedom to choose a topic of interest and apply it to math.” The teenager said she appreciated the way the competition supported student’s willingness to explore.
Ms. Clayton remembered her experience in much the same way. Her project covered the exploration of the similarities between projectile motion and conics.
There’s already interest in the 2020 LI Math Fair among Huntington underclassmen who are considering their academic pursuits for next year.