March 12, 2004

SIUC to host Math Field Day for high school students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - It's time to put away the calculators as about 1,000 high school students from as far away as Kentucky and Tennessee will compete later this month for honors at the annual Math Field Day at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The competition dates back more than 60 years, before World War II, according to mathematics department lecturer Rita Polston, who is coordinating the Friday, March 19 event.

The competition is from 10 a.m. to noon at the Arena, and awards presentations begin at 2:15 p.m.


Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover Math Field Day and talk with participants at the awards ceremonies. For more information, contact Rita Polston at 618/453-6579.

The competition challenges students to solve problems in areas that range from algebra to pre-calculus, trigonometry and some calculus. The University's mathematics faculty design, present and score the tests.

There are individual and team awards. The highest-scoring junior will receive an academic scholarship offered through the College of Science to attend SIUC. The award is worth up to $4,500 toward tuition over a four-year period. In addition, teams will receive trophies and ribbons in three divisions: Class A - schools with fewer than 250 students; Class AA - between 250 and 750 students; and Class AAA - more than 750 students. Certificates also are given for individual accomplishments in each academic division.

Schools have teams that will practice all year for the competition, Polston said. A maximum of 24 students, six per grade level from each school, may compete.

There seems to be so much attention on sports. We have always wanted to focus on scholarship also, and to encourage the students to work a little more strongly at mathematics. And they do that," she said.

During the competition, a teacher's program will be held in the E.T. and Katy Simonds Alumni Lounge in the Engineering Building.

For more information, contact Rita Polston in the mathematics department at 618/453-6579 or by fax at 618/453-5300. She may also be reached by email at

Serving others and being involved in outreach programs is among the goals of Southern@150, the long-range blueprint for the growth of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.