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Rational Rocket mathletes on positive vector

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By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff

It’s not often that high school students would give up a Friday to do math. It’s even less likely that they would give up a Friday to compete in a competition where they had to solve math problems. But Needham High School’s math team did just that a few weeks ago.

The best part: they won big at the competition. 

Needham’s math club is a member of the Greater Boston Math League. The club meets once a week at Needham High. Its members come ready to tackle new equations and find the solutions of different problems. The favorite subject among the group is geometry and its different sub-categories, including analytical geometry, elliptical geometry, and taxicab geometry. Other favorites include number theory and algebra.

The team was formed like so many others. They saw posters decorating the hallways or they visited the team’s booth during club day. “Some people got recommended by math teachers,” noted Helena, a junior.

Ethan Lee has been a member of the club through all four years of high school and has become a leader of the team. In those four years, he has seen the team evolve to become what it is today. “I guess it’s nice to see the team grow in numbers after four years,” he acknowledged.

The club could only pick eight members to compete in the Massachusetts Association of Mathematics League’s state competition in Shrewsbury. They compared their previous scores for the year, including their previous five competitions, to formulate the strongest team for the event. The Rockets would ultimately sent Ethan Lee, Matt Culver, Joseph Kim, Harvard Wang, Helena Zhang, Kaitlyn Ramesh, Andrew Li, and Derek Yang to the tournament, where they dominated their competition. For this important competition - perhaps the most meaningful any of them have participated in since they started competing - the group left school early and traveled to Shrewsbury High School. “It was a pleasant surprise and an interesting experience,” said Ethan.

The competition lasted around three hours, during which time the group worked hard and exceedingly well as a group. “We got a perfect score as a team. That was a great way to end it,” Ethan explained.

Needham didn’t just score a perfect team score; they were the only team in the entire team portion of the competition to do so. In only 12 minutes, the team solved 6 problems, and got all of them right.

When it came to the individual rounds, Ethan, who is known for his fantastic math skills in the Math League community, also scored a perfect score.

The stunning victory was also bittersweet, though, as it marked the last competition for the seniors of the club. “I’m really going to miss our seniors,” said Joseph Kim.

But for these diligent mathletes, the fact that they not only won their competition, but got farther than the club had in several years, was the best reward they could have asked for.

Even better, they earned their prize by working together.

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