Tonight was the glorious Math Games Night at Math Prize for Girls. This year, the event took place in the stunning tenth floor of the Microsoft NERD Center. There were activities of all shapes and sizes: modular origami, traditional games, a musical activity with Luyi, the author of Geometric Delights,… Many volunteers with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with on SUMiT 2012 from MIT’s USWIM were there too. And the girls came from all over the country.

The author of Mess or Math? and I hosted a math treasure hunt. Participants will have some serious mathematical thinking to do tomorrow, so rather than having participants maximize functions, we aimed to have them maximize their own laughter. If the funky human statue representing mixed fractions didn’t elicit a laugh, hopefully the poor oozing banana did.

Despite the levity, there were some moments of serious mathematical terror. In Mental Madness, 10 participants in a circle had to perform mental computations in turn and try to make it all the way around without error. At one point, the number rocketed into a twelve-digit astronumber. I watched in awe as not two, not three, but four girls valiantly manipulated twelve-digit numbers, eventually getting to the number 215,999,999,987. Hopefully such terrifying numbers won’t invade tomorrow’s test. In the end, they made it all the way around in a feat of mental computation and none of them went mad. Congratulations!

To all participants, good luck tomorrow, have fun and I hope you make many new friends!

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