Palindromes, story problems abound at Math Day


How many palindromic numbers are there between 1 and 10,000?

Don’t know? Don’t feel bad. Six of the brightest math minds at Lincoln’s high schools couldn’t figure out that one Thursday.

But they figured out plenty of other math problems that would have stymied some of the smartest mathematicians during the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s 23rd annual Math Day.

Like this one: On May 1, April puts $1 in the bank. Every day, she puts in a penny more than the day before. When will she first have at least $10?

“May 10,” Ingrid Zhang said, answering correctly and helping her Lincoln East High School team advance in the team math bowl competition.

Nearly 1,400 high school students representing nearly 100 schools across the state competed for the chance at scholarships and team trophies. All of the students took the Probe I test, a one-hour, multiple-choice exam.

The top 50 scorers on that exam then took the Probe II exam, a one-hour essay exam that emphasizes knowledge, depth of understanding and written expression. The 10 students with the highest combined scores on the two exams were awarded scholarships to UNL totaling $34,000.

“It’s just a cool opportunity for students who love math to get together and be competitive,” said Lindsay Augustyn, spokeswoman for the UNL Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education.

By noon Thursday, Lincoln East was on its way to competing for the Class A math bowl trophy, having beaten Omaha’s Creighton Prep and the Lincoln Science Focus Program.

Leona Penner, a retired East High and Lux Middle schools math teacher, said she prepared her team in much the same way she has for the past dozen or so years. They competed in quiz bowls and studied questions and answers from past Math Day probe exams.

“I am a competitive person, and I really like and do well on things like this,” said Akshay Rajagopal, a Lincoln East junior.

He’s not kidding. In 2008, Rajagopal won the National Geographic Bee.

The Math Day competition teaches students to think outside the box on math questions, said Trip Ogden, a junior in the Lincoln Science Focus Program.

Penner said the competition is as mentally demanding as sports are physically demanding.

“If you play basketball all day, you expect to be tired,” she said. “If you’re using your brain all day, that’s also exhausting.”

Zhang, who scored the highest on the Probe I exam Thursday, said she enjoys most getting to meet other students who love math.

"You get to mingle with all the math nerds," she said.

By the way, the answer to that first question is 197, and a palindrome is a word, sentence or number that reads the same backward as forward, such as madam and 1221.

But maybe you already knew that.


Sign up now for Adventure Camp about the Environment (ACE)


Sign up now for the third annual Adventure Camp about the Environment (ACE). ACE is for middle school students who have completed sixth, seventh or eighth grades in the 2011-2012 school year, and who are interested in having fun and learning about Nebraska Natural Resources. ACE is hosted at the State 4-H Youth Camp near Halsey, June 17th - 20th.


The four-day adventure camp focuses on water resources, soil and land, forestry, range and grassland, and wildlife, while educating campers through hands-on activities on the importance of protecting our natural resources.


In addition, campers have a chance to experience nature through activities such as tubing, archery, zipline, water rockets, the water slide and other adventures.


Fees and registration is $185.00 per camper. Many NRDs offer scholarships for the four day camp. Contact your local NRD to see if assistance is available. Space is limited and registration deadline is May 25, 2012.


ACE is sponsored by Nebraska NRDs, Nebraska Association of Resources Districts, Olsen Agricultural Laboratory, Hooker County Turner Youth Initiative, the Nebraska Environmental Trust and Nebraska Academy of Science, Inc.


Nebraska NRDs and NARD partnered with several organizations to make the camp a success. Partnering organizations included: University of Nebraska, Nebraska Natural Resources Conservation Services, Nebraska National Forest, Nebraska State 4-H Camp, and Nebraska Pheasants Forever. 


To find out more information about ACE or to get a copy of a registration, contact Alyssa Smola at 402-471-7672 or visit website




Demystifying STEM - Out of School Staff Training


Nebraska Association of Science Teachers is offering a training opportunity specific to STEM programming for the out of school staff. This is a great opportunity to learn hands on activities that not not only compliment the skills learned in the school day but can easily be incorporated in the afterschool setting.


If you are curious about how STEM content can be infused in your afterschool program but feeling cautious in your skills to deliver science, technology, engineering and math, this workshop will empower you to help students use their brain to solve real-life problems. Come investigate how!


Audience: specific for out of school program staff

Event date: September 27 1:00 - 4:00

Location: Camp Calvin Crest, Fremont

Cost: $70 per person


For more information contact: Jim Woodland NDE Science Director Julie Sigmon Project Liftoff Coordinator




Engineering Education Excellence Institute for Middle and High School Students is June 22 and 23 at UNL!


Lincoln and Omaha students in grade 6-12 are invited to the 6th Annual Engineering EducationExcellence Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln!

Students will spend all day on Wednesday, Thursday, or both days learning about engineering from secondary teachers and university research faculty and students. Student participants will tour sites on and off campus, including university laboratory facilities and industry sites! Teachers have developed fun, hands-on lesson plans to teach students about math and science concepts through transportation engineering applications! 

The event is FREE and breakfast and lunch are provided. The event will run from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM both days. Transportation to campus is not provided. Students will need to be dropped off at the Whittier Research Center on UNL's City Campus. 

Register at by June 17! Please contact Charise Alexander at (402) 472-6078 or calexander4© with any questions.