Scottie Math Bowl X

It’s Alumnae Weekend! For me this means it’s my five-year college reunion, which is making me feel like I’m getting old among other things. Because it’s a five-year reunion, the college has a bunch of fancy things planned besides me showing up to hub sing and taking their free food and drinks while singing old songs.

The first thing on my alumnae weekend calendar has nothing to do with the actual reunion stuff at all.

It’s the Scottie Math Bowl.

A little bit of background for those who didn’t know me as a student: I majored in math. My alma mater’s math department has a Scottie Math Bowl every year during the yearly research symposium featuring four teams, questions about everything from the math department faculty to math in pop culture to actual math, and lots of fun. The room is usually packed, and this year was no exception; I helped grab chairs from another room for this year’s event. Hey, I’ve already graduated, so I can’t get in trouble, right?

The bowl itself is a lot of fun, and no one takes themselves too seriously. The team names are often silly; mine definitely were. The professors hold titles like The Host, The Photographer, The Esteemed Panel of Judge, The Scorekeeper, and The Non-Mathematician Scorekeeper (who’s actually from the physics department).

I played in this bowl for four years as a student (Bowls II through V), and my team won three of them. Since no known Scottie has been on four winning teams, I hold my three winning teams title proudly. As I should.

Since I had yesterday free, I headed down to Decatur to watch the shenanigans.

This year’s team names were Jie Jie… something (I forgot what it was), Team Physics, Let Samantha Pick the Team Name, and Bay More.

For the first time in Bowl history, there was a tie (12-12) at the end of the second semifinal match. Dr. Koch the question reader (and my past math advisor) flipped a coin and asked one team to call the coin. They called it wrong, so the other team got to go first. Then came the e-off. Starting with Team Physics, each team had five seconds to name the next digit of e. Of course, the first team had the advantage of starting with 2.

And then the team member on Bay More didn’t give a digit for the next one. Whoops.

Funnily, Dr. Koch said he knew “only” eighteen digits of e and was afraid he’d have to exhaust them. Heh. I know almost as much since he’s the one who taught me that many digits: 2.718281828459045… I should have worn my e shirt today.

Then the finals started. There was not a tie, but Let Samantha Pick the Team Name won after a noble effort by both teams. Final score: 37-23.

And the questions, oh, the questions. A few of this year’s questions:

* the Mark Twain quote about “lies, damned lies, and statistics”. No one got this one. Sad.
* the artist who did “Neverending Math Equation”. Modest Mouse. I knew this one! None of the team members did.
* a Life of Pi question
* actual math! (Yes, this does happen occasionally)

You can also look at the @ScottieMathBowl Twitter for an idea of some past questions; the math department has been tweeting some past questions in the #30daysofSMB hashtag. They have a bowl complex.

There was a word from the sponsor during halftime, which consisted of Dr. Wiseman giving out math department awards. And at the end everyone got prizes: Nerds for everyone (You are what you eat), keychains for the second place winner, and ice cream shaped calculators for the winners.

I’m still rooting for an alumnae edition of the Bowl, by the way. I already have one professor’s support but unfortunately not the host’s. Hmph. Or we could do a professor bowl. I’ve already volunteered to host that one.

Soooooo, when is this going to happen? Any alums want to volunteer to make a team? Or do I need to pull a Sheldon and grab three random people for a team?

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