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View Diary: Why pretty girls should join math teams (34 comments)

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    I enjoyed the clip. But just for the record if anyone watches it and thinks that is what math competitions are about, most kids will never, ever have to do mental math on stage like that. The few who do are the top kids and have trained specifically for that. For instance, at Mathcounts Nationals, 250 kids compete but only the top 10 do the exhibition round. It is interesting to see. Those kids are amazing! That round is broadcast on one of the ESPN channels, like the finals of the Scripps spelling bee. I have been told that the bookies in Las Vegas take bets on both. You can see videos of what it looks like here.

    There is also a scene in Jodie Foster's movie Little Man Tate based on a Mathcounts exhibition round. Some people may have seen the movie.

    But again, most kids involved with math competitions will never do an exhibition round like that. Do not be put off by it and think your child would never go for a math team. For most kids, it is a paper and pencil test. The strongest performances are celebrated. But there is no comment and no stigma for the non-winners. Another way it is different from "school math".

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