Gannon University Buzzes During First Integration Bee

Integration_Bee_2014Posted: May 16, 2014

It was a heavyweight championship, the Mad March of the math set (even though the event took place the week after college basketball ended). It was Gannon University's inaugural Integration Bee.

Around eighty students, most of them from Gannon, but also a few high-school and dual-enrollment students, prepared for battle in Zurn Hall, three to a team. The task at hand was to solve equations involving integration, which, together with its inverse, differentiation, is one of the two main operations in calculus.

Each team received 15 to 20 equations containing indefinite integrals of the type that students would encounter in Gannon's Calculus 2 classes. The goal was to solve them within a defined time limit using nothing more than a pen or pencil and paper and the teammates' math skills.

Awaiting the winners was $100 prizes donated by the Bookstore to be split between four teams, three winners and a bonus prize for the team with the most creative name. Students taking Calc 2 were also offered extra credit for participating.

"I was expecting maybe 30 students," David Prier, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, said of the turnout. "I think the pizza and the extra credit did it." Prier took the idea from a similar competition at the University of Dayton when he was an undergraduate. Calc 2 is a tough class. Our dean likes to call this a bottleneck course and it's nice to see the kids get into it-and they were. It was a heated competition."

In the end, it was won by a team of high school students, Dan Liszka, Michael Yost and Kevin Cedzo, whose mother, Christine, is a member of Gannon's math faculty. The most creative name was awarded to the team called "Just du it," a name that makes sense only to calculus adepts.

Gannon students will have a chance to redeem themselves next semester when Prier brings the event back in a slightly different guise. "We're looking to do this as a recruitment event where we'll do derivatives as opposed to integrals."

Math whizzes, sharpen your pencils. 

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