On Oct 30, 2015, a number of middle school mathletes from Chatham and neighboring towns received prizes for their preparation for the American Mathematics Competition (AMC8) in November.  AMC8 is a middle school math competition in which over 100,000 students participate nationwide and globally.  The local mathletes have been practicing with Sophie’s Math Corner (sophiescorner.jerseystem.net), a webpage initiated by Sophie Andrews, a freshman at Chatham High School.   Sophie classifies AMC8 problems into various topics such as combinatorics and probability, and every week she posts new problems on a common topic. Her goal is to provide a flexible platform for busy mathletes to practice in their spare time.  Sophie became aware of AMC8 last year when she was in 8th grade.  She said, “I thought the AMC8 problems are fun and I was exposed to mathematics that is not a regular part of the curriculum.  Now I’m in high school, I appreciate more and more that math is an integral part of every STEM subject.”

In addition to Sophie’s Math Corner, JerseySTEM is also hosting face-to-face coaching before the November competition, for which Sophie, Brett Balasky and Hongsun Kim are volunteer coaches.   For details please see AMC8.jerseystem.org.

The prize giving was part of a monthly Tech Social event at Tech:Vineyard on Chatham Main Street hosted by JerseySTEM. There was also a live demo of a drone together with an announcement of an upcoming JerseySTEM program on drones. Rutgers professor Mary Konsolaki gave a fascinating talk on Alzheimer’s, including how it affects the brain and the ongoing research efforts to understand and combat the disease. The evening finished with a movie on optical illusions, which showed many examples in which human brains play tricks on visual perception.  Not only can we, intelligent human beings, be misled about colors, sizes and motions of an object, sometimes we can even confuse a fake hand with our own!