Westwood High School student Patrick Quo, 16, has a chance to win $5,000 for himself and $5,000 for the math department at his school if he answers a few questions right.
Quo will compete Thursday against nine other high school students from across the country in a contest called “Who Wants to Be A Mathematician.” The event, held in Baltimore by the American Mathematical Society, is hosted like a game show, said society spokesman Mike Breen.
All of the contestants stand behind lecterns and buzz in the answers to math questions, which they are allowed to figure out only with a pen and paper, said Breen.
“The unique thing about this contest is it’s fun; the kids are relaxed, and it’s got some humor,” said Breen.
Quo said he wasn’t “too nervous” about the contest and was going to review some math history books to prepare for it. “I do think it’s a huge honor to go there, and I know a lot of the finalists who are really a big name in the mathematical community,” he said.
Quo said he has liked math since middle school because he enjoys thinking “logically” to find a solution. “If you can prove something in math like a solution, no one can say you’re wrong,” he said. “In other subjects like English, there’s a gradient of right or wrong.”
The 16-year-old, who plays the piano and the violin, made it through two qualifying rounds for the mathematics contest. He was the highest scorer in his region, which includes Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and Arkansas.