While most fifth graders’ biggest math challenge is figuring out how many Cheetos they can stuff in their mouths at one time, Brian Reinhart was already learning calculus.
The now 16-year-old sophomore at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach is by no means resting on his laurels; he recently placed fifth out of more than 120 competing in the Carnegie Mellon Informatics and Mathematics Competition (CMIMC), for both combinatorics and computer science, on April 2 at Carnegie Mellon University.
But if you think the competition is like Jeopardy, wherein competitors are given equations and slam buzzers with the answers, think again.
“They’re as boring as they get, if you’re a spectator,” Reinhart said. “It’s a bunch of people sitting in a room doing math problems.”
Reinhart is a member of the Florida Student Association of Mathematics, which focuses on high-level math competitions. The team is made up of six to eight of Florida’s most gifted high-school math students.
Students compete in both individual and team events, and this year, Florida came in first place overall.
This was on the heels of another stunning win for Reinhart; he came in 17th out of 1,000 of the best math students from around the world at the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament (HMMT) held this past November and February. While the team took fifth place overall, Reinhart scored an eighth-place victory in geometry, giving him bragging rights as the first Florida student to ever finish in the top 10 in any HMMT category.
Reinhart said that support from family and teachers along with his friends at Oxbridge has helped along the way.
“They’ve always been open to me exploring math in whatever ways I need to,” he said. “The teachers are great. I can hang out in a group of friends without feeling weird or nerdy for being good in math. There’s no stigma or anything like that; they’re a very accepting community.”
Reinhart hopes to one day attend Carnegie Mellon University, where he’s already gotten a taste of academic life while participating in their Mathematics Association of America’s Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program. Reinhart took home one of the coveted 25 spots after scoring high in the sixth annual Junior Math Olympiad test.
Oxbridge Academy is located at 3151 N Military Trail in West Palm Beach. For more information, visit www.oapb.org or call (561) 972-9600.