inteGIRLS STL/MO chapter hosts first Winter Contest


Photo courtesy of inteGIRLS STL/MO.

Shubha Gautam, News Editor

The inteGIRLS STL/Missouri chapter hosted their Winter 2021 Math Contest for girls and non-binary individuals comfortable with being placed with girls Saturday, Dec. 4. The student-led group hosted the competition through Zoom, a video communication platform, for middle school and high school students in the Midwest with the purpose of encouraging girls to participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

inteGIRLS is a teen-led global nonprofit organization with over 15 chapters in 60 nations. The Missouri chapter’s website states their mission is to bridge the gender gap in competition problem solving by creating a supportive community of girls who love math through competitions and puzzle hunts. The event on Saturday included over 60 participants and consisted of an individual round, two relay rounds, a team round, games and an Estimathon with questions written by problem writers across all chapters. Additionally, guest speakers Dr. Dena Clink, Cornell University research associate studying primatology, and Dr. Jennifer Strahle, Washington University in St. Louis professor and pediatric neurosurgeon, spoke at the contest about their careers and experiences as women in STEM.

RBHS senior and inteGIRLS STL/Missouri chapter head Maggie Lin helped run and plan the contest. She delegated tasks during the event to the other chapter executives and, overall, said she was satisfied with the organization of the contest and turnout.

“I feel like we got better at being on time and being more organized with the volunteers,” Lin said. “For the [Fall 2020] competition, people were proctoring five rooms at once because we had a shortage [of volunteers], but this time we knew what was going on and we were more organized.”

Similar to their prior two competitions, the chapter hosted two speakers for around 20 minutes each in the winter contest. Clink talked about coding, working with gibbons on the island of Borneo, the benefits of mentorships and her experience as a woman in STEM during her presentation. 

“I am passionate about supporting and uplifting women and girls in STEM,” Clink said. “I was very happy [inteGIRLS STL/MO] reached out to me.”

Celina Zhou, student at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis and competition participant, said her experiences with inteGIRLS competition are always positive, and it’s nice to have this kind of organization and the environment it creates for girls. She said she is grateful toward the executives for taking the first step and running contests, as having a safe space like them means a lot to her. 

“I like the inclusion of the Estimathon and the games afterwards,” Zhou said. “It was a lot of fun being able to talk to these girls [participants] outside of the competition environment and making friends, etc.”

inteGIRLS STL/MO is planning on hosting another competition this spring, hoping to attract more participants. 

“I feel like I don’t interact with a lot of girls in math often, so working with them is really cool,” Lin said. “My favorite part about [running the competition] is it’s very rewarding being able to run these things because my first math competition was what kind of got me started doing math, so I feel like I’m giving back in a way.”

Have you ever participated in a math contest? Let us know in the comments below.