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‘Math Mindedness’ celebrates 17 years

Professional math tutor David Williams once again has brought area students together to celebrate math in his 17th Annual Math Mindedness and the Mayor Contest.

This year’s contest saw a very unusual statistic anomaly — two first-place winners, both of whom scored perfectly on the contest’s exam.

“A perfect score does not happen very often, and to have two in the same year … maybe next year that will be a question. ‘What is the probability that two students will score perfect?’” Williams said.

Farragut resident Britton Jordan, who is home-schooled and also attends Murphy-Cates Academy in Kingston, and Arik Stuvek, a Knoxville Catholic High School student, were the top scorers.

Britton said this was the first time he had competed in the competition and he didn’t really know what to expect.

“I liked it. There were some difficult questions,” he said.

Arik said he felt the questions “were pretty good. I thought for math purposes it was pretty precise and accurate. It tested your mind so you could think and apply it.”

Williams said he tries to find obscure questions that will make the competitors think, and make them realize they use math every day, whether they know it or not.

Some of the questions on this year’s contest were: “Which number or numbers are used the most each day and why? How does taking a bath solve a math problem?” And “Frogs do math. Give an example.”

He said he gets his questions from several different sources.

“I go online and to different puzzle books. I try to do history; we have a bible question, things dealing with politics.

“Students ask the teachers ‘Why do we do this?’ and ‘When are we going to use this?’ and this contest shows them,” he added.

Another part of the competition asks the students to think of a math-related gift they could give the Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam.

The competitors then construct the gift and present it to the Mayor.

Britton made an abacus.

“I built it because I thought it would save electricity and batteries and make the Mayor smarter if he uses it,” he said.

He and his family put a lot of work into the gift.

“It took a couple of weeks. My granddad helped a lot and so did my mom,” Britton said.

Britton wanted to make sure the abacus was representative of Tennessee, so he made some of the beads in the shape of the Sunsphere.

He also made it practical.

“I did nine columns for the budget and two more for the cents. When we looked on the Internet the budget was $165 million in Knoxville so it is big enough for the mayor to do the budget on,” he said.

Due to Haslam’s run for Tennessee governor, his schedule has not yet permitted for the students to meet with him and present their gifts. Williams said he hopes to schedule some time with him later this summer.


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