May 3, 2023

Pacifica’s Math Team Multiplies Successes in Its First Year

The Math Team at Pacifica exists to inspire our students with challenging and engaging mathematics. This year, our founding team of fifteen students met every week to enjoy time together while working on math problems. The problems we focus on solving are not stereotypical high school math problems (“solve for x using this process”); rather, Math Team works to solve problems that require a deep understanding of the nature of mathematics and a determination to solve a problem even when there is no clear path to the solution. The following is a story from senior Juliana Jordan detailing her experience with one of these problems:

“I was handed a fascinating problem in Math Team, but found myself immediately stuck on it—as did the rest of the team. It involved three overlapping circles, each with a radius of one, and I needed to find the area of the union of the three circles. My first few theories on how to solve it lead me down various wrong paths. More than a few days later I finally realized that I could break the overlapping area into a combined arc and triangle and then calculate the area between two overlapping circles. From there, I researched. I learned new vocabulary and strategies, and began to look at the problem in a new way. And then, after working on it for a couple weeks, I finally solved the problem. The pure catharsis and satisfaction that comes from solving a problem you have been stuck on, and sharing your findings with a group is unlike any other. I felt both relieved, accomplished, and overjoyed upon its completion.”

The Math Team competes once each semester. Our first competition in the fall, the AMC 10/12, is an online exam that students take on our campus. This competition gives students the opportunity to be nationally recognized for their hard work. Our second competition is in the spring and is held at California State University Long Beach. A group of six students is chosen to compete against other teams from several local high schools. This competition gives students an opportunity to compete in-person and tour a local college campus together. Our team did incredibly well in these competitions and we are so proud of the legacy they have established in their first year as Pacifica mathematicians!

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