Two students from Bethpage High School were accepted into the prestigious Institute of Creative Problem Solving for Gifted and Talented students at SUNY College at Old Westbury. Ninth graders Miraj Shah and Diya Sheth are among 84 students selected out of approximately 525 of the top-ranking students on Long Island.
Selection into the Institute implies that a student is among the top one-tenth of 1% in math of all students on Long Island in their grade. The application process was based on four criteria: school transcript, teacher recommendation, a brief statement written by the student and a rigorous entrance exam.
In order to prepare, both Miraj and Diya studied a variety of math books and videos. They are both also members of the school’s math team. Miraj is currently taking advance geometry, while Diya is in both advanced geometry and algebra.
For Miraj, his favorite thing about math coincides with America’s favorite pastime.
“I love calculating statistics,” he said. “Baseball is also one of my favorite things, so I like to watch the games and calculate statistics, like earned run average and batting average.”
Diya appreciates not just coming to a mathematical conclusion, but also having an explanation for the answer.
“I really like having a reason to why something works,” Diya said. “In our topic to get into the program, we had to learn different proofs for math and I really enjoyed it.”
Miraj and Diya have been attending classes every Saturday morning since September via Zoom. Different educators from a variety of institutions teach the classes, with students spending a total of 50 hours in class during the course of 20 sessions. The curriculum covers topics such as algebra, geometry, discrete math and number theory and students typically work in groups, utilizing breakout rooms on the Zoom platform.
In addition to the curriculum, students also cover topics not in the standard course of study, like probability and the theory of finite differences. The class offers students the opportunity to learn things they wouldn’t typically cover in the standard school curriculum, which can lead to broadening horizons and fine-tuning specific skills.
“The one thing I want to get out of the program is seeing how much I can push my boundaries in math,” Miraj said. “You’re almost never wrong, so I get to learn the reasoning behind so many solutions.”
“It’s really interesting to see how many different things there are in math,” Diya said. “With this program, I can see what parts of math I enjoy doing the most and focus on what engages me.”
Both Miraj and Diya hope to incorporate their love for math in their future careers. Miraj can see himself working for a baseball operation, calculating statistics and assisting in scouting recruits and trades. Diya has a variety of interests, from architecture to finance, and hopes to utilize her math skills to aid in her success.
Graduates of the Institute have boasted many accolades, including prestigious awards in national and international math, science and engineering contests. Many graduates also return to be instructors as well.
"We are so proud of what both Miraj and Diya have been able to accomplish,” Principal Nick Jantz said. “I cannot wait to see what else high school has in store for them!"