Lehigh Valley team wins national ARML championship

The American Regions Math League (ARML) is a national contest for teams of 15 high school students. On June 4, 2005, the Lehigh Valley Fire team, coached by Lehigh University math professor Don Davis, won the national championship, defeating 94 other teams from 30 states, Ontario, Taiwan, and the Phillipines.

The contest has been held for the past 30 years, at Penn State, Iowa, and San Jose. The nature of the competition is illustrated by the list of winners each year and the list of the top 12 teams in the 2005 contest. Most top teams are all-star teams from major metropolitan areas, entire states, or magnet schools.

The Lehigh Valley team is composed of students within a 75-mile radius of Lehigh University. The primary criterion for selection to the team is performance on the Lehigh University High School Math Contest, which Davis conducts each March. Practices are held Sunday evenings during the spring. Some team members drove (or were driven) 75 miles regularly to attend these practices.

The Lehigh Valley Fire team (see list and photo) had seven students from the actual Lehigh Valley (Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and adjoining villages), six from the western Philadelphia suburbs, one from Hazleton, and one from New Jersey. Ken Monks, Professor of Mathematics at University of Scranton, served as Assistant Coach. His daughter Maria, from Hazleton, was one of the mainstays of the team.

There was a second Lehigh Valley team, the Ice, which finished 45th. Many Ice team members are expected to fill the six open positions on the Fire team created due to graduation.

The contest consists of four parts. In two of them, the team works together to answer either short-answer or discursive questions. In the Relay part, one person's answer serves as input to the next person's question. Finally there is an Individual portion.

Davis attributes his team's success to the fact that many of the team had been on it for four years, beginning when they were in the eighth or ninth grade, and worked very well together. Of the top 10 teams, the Fire team was tied for ninth and tenth on the Individual portion. It was the teamwork part, especially the relays, in which they excelled.

No one in the entire contest answered all 8 individual questions correctly. Fire team member Ameya Velingker was one of 15 students to answer 7 correctly. Velingker, of Parkland High School in Allentown, was also one of the 12 finalists for the US Olympiad team in 2004. A training camp for 55 potential Olympiad team members is held in Nebraska each summer. During each of the past two years, four Lehigh Valley team members have attended that camp.

Davis would encourage any readers of this article who know of outstanding math students, as young as eighth grade, living close enough to Lehigh to attend Sunday evening practices, to encourage those students to participate in the 26th annual Lehigh math contest on March 4, 2006. For more information about the LV ARML team, click here.