Do you know the answer? If so your name can be added to an impressive list of international names lining the Ole Miss Math Challenge website. In 1996, David Rock, now dean of the Ole Miss School of Education, and Doug Brumbaugh, a veteran math educator at the University of Central Florida, put a math problem on the Internet with an email address. The contest was simple, answer the problem and send in that answer to the email address included on the page.
“The funny thing about this is this was pre-Google, pre-Yahoo. But what happened? I received ten responses in the first week,” Rock said, “I’m not sure how they found us, but they found us.”
Ten responses became 20 the next week, then 40 after that. It wasn’t long before teachers became involved in the process, and now has grown to four problems a week with thousands of participants from 236 countries. The contest, now known as Ole Miss Math Challenge, is open to anyone with a love for mathematics. The weekly contest still includes the Problem of the Week, but also includes three more problems that are divided into skill levels according to grades: the Elementary Brain Teaser, Middle School Madness, and the Algebra in Action challenge.
Math enthusiasts can also test their skills with past problems, and being tempted to look at an answer isn’t an issue.
“We don’t list the answers, because teachers have asked us not to,” Rock said. “If a person attempts the problem and asks for a solution we will email the answers to them, but only after they’ve attempted to answer the problem.”
“Any person who submits a correct answer has their name, school and location added underneath the problem,” Rock continued. “By being added to that list, they join what we call the Rebel Matrix, which is an honor.”
A recent addition to the contest is the chance to win an Ole Miss Rebel Matrix t-shirt. Each week, correct responders to the four challenge problems are selected at random to receive a t-shirt. Rock hopes to gain sponsors for the online math contest and, in doing so, increase the amount of prizes. For more information on becoming a sponsor, contact Rock at firstname.lastname@example.org.