Dallas, TX – 16 year-old high school junior Kevin Chang, from Plano, could win a prestigious national science contest later this morning. The top prize is $100,000 in scholarship money. KERA's Bill Zeeble talked to Chang in Washington D.C., the site of the finals.
Chang attends the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a kind of specialty high school at UNT. The teen says he's loved mathematics from elementary school days.
Chang: ...and I always thought it was fun to solve problems and things like that, ever since I was a little kid.
A seasoned academic competitor, Chang has qualified many times for the U.S. Math and Junior Math Olympiads. He helped organize and lead what's called a MathStar club in elementary and middle schools. At a summer math camp in San Marcos, he met his two team partners, one from Austin, the other from San Francisco. They made headway towards proving a conjecture in something called graceful graph theory, a long-standing math problem. Chang loves pursuing these type of unknowns.
Chang: Because it's cutting edge stuff that no one has proven before. I wanted to know how people did that. So I was drawn into mathematical research.
Chang's team is one of six finalists in this year's Siemens Competition in Math Science and Technology. It took place this weekend at George Washington University in the nation's capital. The two top teams each share $100,000 for college. There are also $50,000 and $10,000 scholarship prizes. Chang says all competitors were confident going into this contest. He felt nervous, but also tried to up his game.
Chang: I learned I need to talk louder. After I got that down, basically emphasize the important points. And the time issue is always important, because our presentation was usually too long.
Chang finds out later this morning if his team took the top prize in the National Siemens Math and Science Competition in Washington.