Quietly quite exceptional

By Forrest Ahrens

Forrest is a sophomore who is interested in math and science. He enjoys writing about human interest topics and exploring ideas that we encounter, but may not consider, in our daily lives. His hobbies include canoeing and backpacking, engineering and acting.

Posted: June 4, 2015

M.A. Math Prodigy: Daniel Stein from Redhawksonline on Vimeo.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Seniors Kate Brown and Angela Scharf spoke with freshman Daniel Stein and math teacher Rich Enderton about Stein’s success this year in a demanding national math competition.


Freshman advances in national competition

Blend of intelligence, affability and humility make Stein special

By Forrest Ahrens

Freshman Daniel Stein is one of only three Minnesotans to qualify this year for the United States of America Math Olympiad (USAMO), a testing series that began with more than 300,000 students nationwide. Stein is the only Minnehaha Academy student to have ever advanced this far in the American Mathematics Competition (AMC) and has taken a series of three tests that are nationally distributed to advance this far in the competition.

“[On] the first test I could solve most of [the problems], and it was multiple choice so that’s helpful,” said Stein. “On the second test there are fewer problems and you get a lot more time, which is nice for me because I’m not so fast at doing these, but it’s harder because it’s any integer. But this last test was much more difficult. You get an hour-and-a- half per problem so I just tried to solve one problem in the four-and-a -half hours, and it’s proof-based so it’s much harder.”

The three tests Stein has taken have progressed both in difficulty and time, starting at 75 minutes for the first test, three hours for the second test and nine hours in the third test.

“During the school year I don’t have much time to prepare, but in the summer I have some textbooks that I go through,” said Stein. “I’ll take practice tests for the first levels, the ones that are short, but this last [test] I didn’t really prepare for.”

Students like Stein, who performed well on the initial AMC test and secondary American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME), take the USAMO and of those students about 30 are selected to participate in the Mathematical Olympiad SummerProgram. After yet another testing process, the Team Selection Test, a group of six high school students are invited to participate in the United States Math Team to compete in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).

Stein would be the first Minnehaha Academy student to ever participate in the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program if he advances, but the tests are difficult and there’s only so much you can do to prepare for their diverse subject matter.

Before test days, Stein said he tries “to get lots of sleep the previous nights. I drink a lot of water, and I just try to avoid as much math as possible.”


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