A 5th-grader from John Sinnott Elementary School has won 3rd place in the National MathCON Competition. His name is Stephen Grier, and he’s 11 years old.
It was a few years ago, while Stephen was living in San Diego, when his love of math started to develop. He had a teacher named Ms. Sherman who was so passionate about math that she sparked a fire in him, challenging him and his class to go further and learn more deeply.
Then, in June of 2019, Stephen and his family moved to Milpitas.
“When we moved here, the fire died a little because we were adjusting,” said Chau Grier, Stephen’s mom.
But when she found out about the Math competition, she thought it would be a good way to get her son inspired again. So she signed him up.
“And that’s when I saw that fire coming back in him,” said Grier.
More than 200,000 kids from all over the United States and Canada signed up for the competition, which was open to 4th-to-12th-graders. In the 5th-grade category, Stephen received the Bronze medal, a 3rd-place win.
When asked how he felt about his big win, Stephen responded with a smile: “I’m excited…but disappointed that I didn’t get gold.”
It’s that attitude that keeps him motivated and ready to compete again in next year’s competition.
In the meantime, Stephen Grier will continue to push himself to learn more.
“At first, when I was with Ms. Sherman, math was enjoyable because it challenged me. But when I moved, I got [assigned] lower grade level problems. It started getting boring.”
This led to Stephen enrolling in other math programs on the side. He’s currently attending the Russian School of Mathematics, and he’s already studying 8th-grade algebra.
“I’m ecstatic for him. He worked hard enough to make it to the finals. This accomplishment has really encouraged him, and showed him that his gift is being rewarded,” said Stephen’s mom. “I see in his eyes the fire came back.”