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Manhattan Beach Girls' Math Team Earns Perfect Score in National Competition

May 23, 2021 09:56AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
A team of Manhattan Beach Middle School girls won top honors at the national Girls' Adventures in Math (GAIM) competition.

The foursome of Kate Kligys, Rose Cohen, Vanessa Patil (8th graders), and Audrey Treger (7th grade), coached by parent Aaron Cohen, was one of only two middle school teams in the country that earned a perfect score. Competition organizers said that this was the first year that any team had achieved a perfect score in the competition.

GAIM is team-based math competition for girls in grades 3-8. The competition presents some of the most challenging and innovative math problems to students in this age group, contextualized in a comic book containing the stories of pioneering women from history. The competition occurs in two rounds: a sixty-minute round, and a twenty-minute round. To compete, the girls worked together in person and submitted answers online.

This year's GAIM competition drew 1,000 competitors from 18 states. Manhattan Beach elementary school teams earned honors as well. A team from Robinson Elementary (coached by parent Katherine Lin) earned a national "G.O.A.T." (Greatest of All Time) award by landing in the top 10% in the country and top  30% in the region. A Grand View Elementary team (coached by parent Gillian Cato) and a Pacific Elementary team (coached by parent Hilary Grayver) both earned regional top 30% awards. 

To get an idea of what the math questions are like, click here for a sample competition.

Math Clubs Celebrate the "Fun" of Math

The MBMS girls participate in a co-ed MBMS math club that meets once per week after school. (All of the MBUSD schools now have after school math clubs, sponsored in part by MBX Foundation.)

Dina Mayzlin, who along with her husband Aaron Cohen has been active in math enrichment activities in the Manhattan Beach Unified School District, said that the MBMS math club works on a lot of different problems that go beyond what students might see in a classroom.

"It’s kind of a mix of things, some competition, some fun puzzles and games, and enrichment math that kids like to do," she said.

Mayzlin added that having diversity in the group was important. "We love promoting math to girls," she said. "It’s always kind of a goal of ours to promote diversity and to get girls involved in math."

Furthermore, said Mayzlin, the club aims to create math experiences that are fun and rewarding even outside of competitions.

"We enjoy winning things, but the focus is really to get as many kids as possible involved," she said. "We just want them to like math and enjoy it. [One student] says she thinks of math as a puzzle. That’s how we’re trying to get them to think of math, like a puzzle - not as a chore, not as a drill - but as an opportunity to do some really interesting, challenging things."

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