Extracurriculars: Mu Alpha Theta
By Erin Kang
September 30, 2020 · 2 minute read
For this week’s article, we will be continuing our extracurricular series, and our focus will be on Mu Alpha Theta. Mu Alpha Theta (MAO) is a mathematics honor society for high school students. They host competitions around the nation to foster interest and promote enjoyment in mathematics.
Much like Science Olympiad, Mu Alpha Theta holds competitions at the regional, state, and national levels. Contests such as Log1 and Rocket City Math League are also free under Mu Alpha Theta. The Florida Association of Mu Alpha Theta, a.k.a FAMAT, organizes events for 7th to 12th-grade students. The FAMAT ‘season’ begins in January and runs until April. Every month of the season, there is an invitational and a regional competition. In January, there is an invitational and a regional competition at each of the five regions of Florida. All the regionals in January have the same tests and your school will go to the region closest to you. The format of one invitational and multiple regionals is consistent throughout the season. However, the tests change each month. For example, your school will go to an invitational and a regional competition in January, February, and March. The state convention is held in Orlando in April of each year. There are no qualifications for the state convention, and all schools registered for FAMAT can participate.
How Competitions Work
The six divisions a school can compete in are Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Statistics. There are individual rounds of testing and team rounds that consist of four people for each division. Everyone takes their division’s individual test, and the top four people of each division compete in team rounds. There are open tests (Mu Alpha and Theta) for people who do not compete in team rounds. The school score consists of the individual scores and the school’s team 1 score.
The state convention runs a bit differently. The state convention has topics, and each person competes in two topics. The topics vary based on the division you compete in. The scores of the top person in each division goes into your school’s score.
How to Register for FAMAT
To be a registered member of FAMAT, you must pay the FAMAT membership fee. Once paid, you will be a part of the email list and provided with your school identification code needed for all FAMAT competitions. For each competition of the season, there are additional registration fees that are unique to the school hosting the competition.
For more information on how to register, check out the website below:
FAMAT website link: http://www.floridamao.org/PublicPages/Home.aspx
Below is an interview with the president of the Rickards High School Mu Alpha Theta Club. Rickards High School hosts the largest student-run invitational in Florida.
Rohan - President of Mu Alpha Theta Club @ Rickards High School
What initially attracted you to MAO?
Tallahassee, in particular, has a strong MAO culture. From the get-go, there was a lot of talk about the Rickards Invitational, and a lot of people were paying attention to it. The schools that I attended really emphasized the math culture that had cultivated in Florida, so I ended up joining because everyone else did. I began to really enjoy math and started seeing results from my hard work and that further motivated me to continue on.
What’s your favorite thing about it now?
Definitely studying for the state convention, especially at Rickards. Other schools may have multiple students competing in the same topic, but Rickards only has around two people competing in each topic. So, the stakes are definitely high and there’s a lot of pressure on us to do well. At the same time, everyone is putting work into this collective effort and it motivates you when you see your friends working hard. Also, all of us have been in Mu Alpha Theta since middle school, so we’ve definitely become a family. You make a lot of lasting relationships whether it’s in your school or around the state, especially since we’re all a group of like-minded individuals.
How did you get more involved with the club?
Definitely meeting people and meeting officers in the club. Rickards MAO is entirely student run and coming out of middle school, hearing that the students play such a big part in how things are run was really attractive. Initially, I went to this editing session and when they gave me work, I tried to get it done well and when the officers saw that, they started giving me more responsibilities. I see the same thing happening as I’m president now. If I give someone work and they go above and beyond, it encourages me to go back and give them more work.
Rickards High School is known for the Rickards Invitational, what is your experience with that and how has the pandemic affected the process?
The Rickards Invitational is the largest student run invitational. Last year, we had over 1000 competitors and I got the normal experience as co-director. Although I had been competing in the Rickards Invitational since I was little, I was unaware of how much really goes into the competition. It gets a little bit scary knowing that there’s a 1000 people coming to compete at our school. There’s always a lot of moving parts, but many adults are generous and cooperative because we’re student-run. We always get generous sponsorships through local businesses and I think the biggest thing is trusting that it’ll work out in the end. There’s always some level of belief that this is definitely something we can do, this is now our 14th year hosting the Rick Invite, so that in and of itself is a bit of pressure and confidence at the same time.
In regards to our current situation, it is socially irresponsible to have a competition during a pandemic. That being said, it is obviously diametrically different, so we are working to convert our competition to an online format. This has never been tried before with a math competition of this scale, so we are doing our best to make sure the integrity of the competition is kept. The main driving force behind this is that we want to make sure the love and passion for math isn’t lost.
What advice would you give to first years?
Obviously studying, trying to get your fundamentals down, and refining your skills. But more than anything, working collaboratively with others. Finding people around you that are working equally and competitively, allows you to stay engaged and motivated. Talking with older people is always great because they’ve been where you are right now. Their advice really eases the mind and reestablishes the confidence you have in your own abilities.
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About The Author
Erin Kang is a senior at James S. Rickards High School and is a part of the Sciteens team. Her hobbies include baking, listening to music, and playing the violin. If you have any questions or future article recommendations, feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.