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Bayside math ace wins state prize

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If you said 49, good job.Kevin Peng, an MS 74 student from Bayside, can answer a question like that in less than two seconds, and he did just that to finish first at the statewide Mathcounts competition.Speed is just one component of Mathcounts, a national competition aimed at promoting middle school mathematics."The students have to be quick and accurate rather than just accurate," said Brian Annello, the MS 74 math teacher who coached the school's team. "You could put the question on the overhead projector and the student has the answer in less than two seconds while the audience is still reading the question."Kevin, 13, was one member of the MS 74 team, which included three other students. The team beat other borough teams to win the Queens chapter championship in February. He and his teammates then went on to place third in the state competition in Troy March 15.At the same event, Kevin won individual honors for being the best in the state. He received a $1,000 college scholarship and will now go on to represent New York at the national competition in Denver, Colo., in May.Based on teacher recommendations, this year's team was selected in early October and practiced twice a week for an hour at a time. Annello selected Kevin as team captain because of his good rapport with the other students."He's not the type of person to put anyone down," Annello said.In fact, Kevin said one of his favorite things about math and the team was working with other people and seeing how they come to answer a question.Annello has had Kevin as a student for the past two years and said he has yet to see him make a mistake on a written test. "I often question how he does it," he said.Kevin's passion for math first blossomed in fifth grade during an after-school program called Sigma, a private program to help young students excel in math. His family had just moved to Bayside from Brooklyn and was looking for a program for him.Next fall Kevin will attend Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. He said he is looking forward to participating in math competitions at the academically prestigious high school and hopes to become an economist in the future.

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