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FHS student wins first at math competition

A Farragut High School student won a math contest open to the greater Knox County area.

Jesse Jones, a FHS junior, won first-place in David Williams’ 15th annual Mathmindedness competition.

“Mister Williams called me about a month ago and announced that I was first-place,” Jones said. “I was happy. I was kinda surprised too. I got second-place last year.”

Students had to answer several questions on a math worksheet that Williams compiled and distributed. Questions ranged from “What important math event took place in zero B-C?” to “With an infinite number of souls in Heaven, will one more soul added make Heaven larger?”

Jones said he knew some of the answers “off the top of my head,” such as the infinite soul question.

“Infinity plus one equals infinity, so obviously it doesn’t make it bigger,” he said. “Some of [the questions], though, I had to use resources like books and going online.”

During the awards ceremony, students were asked to come up with a new math problem using “weird stuff” distributed during the ceremony. Jones was the first to explain his math problem to the audience.

“This problem solves for the weight of Teddy the toad … Now he’s been putting on a lot of weight recently, and he wants to know just how much,” he said. “So he gets his son, Freddy the frog, to do a little experiment for him. Freddy gets his three classmates to play leapfrog … Using the formula force equals mass times acceleration, we can solve for the mass of Teddy the toad.”

Students were given several minutes to come up with the math problem, and Jones said he didn’t know what he was going to say until just before time was up.

“I just suddenly had insight after about five minutes of just sitting there. It just all came in a flash after having nothing,” he said. He didn’t panic though, “because I knew we still had some time left.”

Jones said he found out about the competition through FHS math teacher Adam Starkey.

“I have honors pre-calculus with Mister Starkey. I also had him last years for Algebra two honors,” he said.

Williams said teacher and school support is important to the contest.

“Most entries come in through the schools,” he said.

Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam attended the awards ceremony, congratulating the students and receiving gifts the students made for him.

“My gift to the mayor was an apple pie that had a pi symbol on it and the first few digits of pi,” Jones said. “[The pie] wasn’t from scratch. I got a frozen one and scratched the symbols into the crust and baked it.”

Prizes were given to the top nine places and included a trophy and a math-related game or puzzle. Jones was also given a $50 cash prize for first-place.

“When you work hard, study hard, do well in school you get rewards,” Williams said.


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