The contest, called MathCounts, was administered through the Queens Chapter of the National Society of Professional Engineers. MathCounts is a program whose aim is to inspire students to enter engineering fields."Engineering uses math and science and turns it into a reality," said Brian Flynn, president of the organization, encouraging students to consider engineering careers.More than 80 middle school students competed.The four MS 216 pupils Ð Zoe Wu, Elvin Ng, Patrick Lee and Elena Slobodyan Ð along with students from MS 158 and MS 74 in Bayside, qualified for a statewide contest to be held upstate later this year.Lasting about four hours, the competition started with a "sprint round," in which students were given a written test to complete in 40 minutes without using a calculator. The exam was composed of 30 questions involving advanced mathematics equivalent to high-school level curriculum.The teams then split themselves into groups of two, with each pair having to answer four sets of two questions. They were given six minutes to complete each pair of questions and were allowed to use a calculator and to talk to each other. Although not an official part of the program, the contest held a spelling bee-style round called "the final countdown" in which two students faced off to answer math questions in 45 seconds. The first one to complete two questions moved on to face the next pupil.Bayside's Kevin Peng, 12, a seventh-grader attending MS 74, won the final countdown for the second consecutive year.For his first-place finish, Peng received $100 from the Queens organization.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@times
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