The International School of Minnesota (ISM) Math Team recently won the AA Division of the Minnesota State Math Competition and finished 6th in the state.
ISM was the only AA school in the top 10 (and the top private school out of only two in the top 10). ISM defeated all private schools in the single A division and larger schools in both their own AA division and the AAA division.
“We beat schools that are six or 10 times our size,” said Mahdi Kansou, executive director SABIS Educational Systems. “They have thousands of kids from which to field their team. We have a pool of 40. Anyone who wants to be on the math team at ISM can be on the team. We’re like Cinderella competing in the final four.”
ISM is a member of SABIS, a global education network that educates more than 70,000 students in 20 countries.
The team is coached by Vinton Geistfeld and assistant coach Grant Goodman. Both are teachers in the high school math department, led by Janet Mahr.
The team is comprised of seniors Simon Wang and Ellie Wu; juniors Ariel Jang and Robin Liu; sophomores Aarya Batchu, Max Peng, and Sam Peterson; and freshmen Kala Frazier and Tim Li.
Peterson has been the team’s highest scorer all season and was 37th individually across the entire state (A, AA and AAA students combined). His specialty is number theory.
Liu says the key to winning is working together on problems, with each student focused on their individual strength. For Liu, that’s geometry.
“It was a geometry problem that inspired me to get into math,” Liu said. “After that I kept practicing and thought it was fun. You solve one problem, and there’s another waiting for you. That’s my passion. And I want to spread that passion.”
Aarya Batchu participated in the American Mathematics Competition and qualified for the American Invitational Math Exam (AIME). Only about 2% of the top math students get invited to take the exam.
While the math competition season may be over, members of this team will continue competing at math invitationals all over the country. These competitions take place at prestigious universities like Carnegie Mellon, Duke and MIT.