Conception of a State Math Contest

In the late 1970’s, various math leagues and contests existed throughout Illinois, including the North Suburban Math League, South Suburban Math League, Math Field Days at Illinois State University and Northern Illinois University.

In 1978, then ICTM President Norm Young appointed a committee, with Richard Rhoad as Chairperson, to investigate the possible establishment of a state math contest.  Composed of an equal number of advocates, opponents, and those who were neutral, the committee discussed the merits and disadvantages of a state contest and quickly decided to plan a state contest.

Ron Vavrinek conducted extensive research, gathering materials gleaned from numerous contests across the country.  All were considered, the committee added some of their own, and came up with a contest.

Here we go…..

A dry run invitational contest was held at Joliet Junior College, hosted by Nelson Collins, in 1980.  After some adjustments, Dr. Tom Shilgalis from Illinois State University agreed to run the first state finals in 1981.  Dr. Shilgalis and ISU would continue to host the state finals for 20 years, until the contest moved to its current home at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Other State Math Contests

(coming soon)

The Uniqueness of Illinois’ State Math Contest

While the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics created the first known state math contest in 1977, Illinois was the first state math contest to include:

  • Two-Person Team Competition (now known as team ciphering throughout the country)
  • Relay Competition (introduced to Mu Alpha Theta in 1990 when Illinois hosted the national convention…still used today)
  • Oral Competition (introduced to Mu Alpha Theta in 1998 when Illinois hosted the national convention…still used today)
  • Calculator Team Competition (Illinois continues to be the only known state to include a specified calculator competition)
  • State Math Contest song (Illinois continues to be the only known state to to have a state math contest song)