6th Annual Math Open at Andover Brings Together Middle School Mathematicians

Middle school students gathered in Kemper Auditorium for the Annual Math Open at Andover.

Over 500 middle schoolers hailing from six countries and over 20 states came together to compete in the 6th Annual Math Open at Andover (MOAA). Organized entirely by Andover students, MOAA is a day-long middle school math competition that was hosted both online and in-person on October, 14.

Anika Mittal ’25, Associate Director of Outreach for this year’s MOAA, highlighted the many facets and logistical challenges of organizing the competition. She described the different roles that the Director Board created to delegate the many tasks associated with such a competition.

“There’s the director of registration, the problem writers, the outreach directors, and the web masters. [The web masters] created the website and took care of making sure that everything was updated on the website, and [kept] track of registration. I emailed people so we’d get sponsors so we’d have prizes and T-shirts. The problem writers wrote all of the competitions, all of the exams. They spent a lot of time writing that to make sure the problems were correct. Then the directors of registration took care of registration, like how many teams can be online, virtual, and how we’re gonna handle that with the zoom breakout rooms,” said Mittal.

Khiem DoBa, Instructor in Mathematics, Head Coach of the Andover Math Team, and Faculty Advisor to the MOAA Board, highlighted the extreme behind-the-scenes work MOAA’s student organizers put in to run the competition successfully, from contacting sponsors in the summer to coding registration and grading forms. DoBa discussed not only how the students managed the moving parts of setting up the competition, but also noted his own role in the process of preparing and facilitating smooth transitions during and in between events.

“This event is run entirely by Phillips Academy students, with a majority of the students from the Math Club. So everything from the very beginning to the end, every piece of this event here is run by students and organized by students, including writing problems, running registrations, looking for sponsors. As an advisor, I gave them a lot of advice along the way when they needed assistance in, for example, how to respond to certain questions, certain kinds of [formats], how to reach out to the sponsors, and how do we organize with the school to have Kemper Auditorium as well as Morse Hall, and use technologies in live streaming the entire day in Kemper, and other small logistics behind the scenes work,” said DoBa.

Following its philosophy of being entirely student run, the organizers and board members of MOAA also drew from the Andover student body to find proctors for the competition. Shixun Song ’26, a former competitor in the MOAA in middle school and a proctor for this year’s competition, noted the highlights and challenges of the day supervising competitors, as well as their impressions and takeaways from the event. 

“I think the most notable part was during the Gunga Bowl, which was the last part of the competition. It was really hectic at first. The entire point of the competition is to have kids running up and grabbing problems to solve each set. It was a really difficult job for the proctors, but we did really well and we managed to organize the entire thing and make sure it went smoothly,” said Song.

Edward Zhang ’27, a new junior to Andover this year, shared the sentiment that the day’s events were franticic but exciting.

“Okay, so yesterday was interesting. Fun, but chaotic day. I think it was lots of fun just to see everybody compete, everybody having a great time, and the math problems were quite interesting,” said Zhang. 

Although this is only the competition’s sixth year, the MOAA has undergone many changes since its inception. DoBa noted, in particular, the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the style and format of the competition. However, DoBa reflected that the changes made have helped the MOAA serve its mission even better than before. 

“This is the sixth year that MOAA has been running and certainly we have faced a lot of different kinds of challenges throughout the years, especially with the years during Covid[-19]. But we are in agreement that we want to do something that is really reaching out to the community, the greater beyond and over, and we are driven by that, and so, we want to continue with these missions and the ideas so that we can continue to inspire more generations of students to learn mathematics, and also to be able to have the space and the time for them to meet each other,” said DoBa.