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National Math Bee coming to Indianapolis in 2010

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The mathematical version of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is coming to Indianapolis in 2010, according to the director of the organization that hosts the event.

National Math Bee, a not-for-profit based in Birmingham, Ala., signed a contract with the Indianapolis Zoo this morning to hold its finals May 7 at the Dolphin Pavilion, marking the first time the event will be held in the city. South Bend-based Teachers Credit Union has signed on as the initial sponsor.

Founded in 2006, the math bee won’t have a major impact in regards to visitor spending. The event typically attracted hundreds of students and as many as 1,200 people when held in Birmingham.

But founder S. David Vaillancourt, who moved to the Indianapolis area last year to become online dean of ITT Technical Institute in Carmel, hopes Indianapolis will help boost the math bee’s attendance.

“With a community like Indianapolis, it will provide more attractions than just the event itself,” he said. “I hope we’ll be able to see a very large growth over the years because of this.”

Vaillancourt thinks Indianapolis’ central location could be an incentive as well. Yet he remains uncertain whether the city will become the math bee’s permanent home.

The tournament is open to students nationwide in first through sixth grades who will begin competing online Sept. 8 in the basic math categories of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

The math bee uses an electronic, baseball-themed math game called Batter Up that Vaillancourt developed to score and rank teams based on the speed and accuracy of responses.

District and state finals culminate in the national competition that attracted students to Birmingham from 37 states. The top three teams from each state are invited to participate in the championship.

The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association is not as concerned about the tournament’s economic impact as it is promoting the region’s colleges and universities to some of the country’s best and brightest students.

Getting them to someday consider an Indiana institution can only benefit the state, ICVA spokesman Chris Gahl said.

“This is a unique opportunity to showcase higher education to these very intelligent and up-and-coming students,” he said. “We will be rolling out the red carpet for them and their parents.”
 
Zoo spokeswoman Judith Gagen said scores of organizations host events at the local attraction, but she noted the math bee should be “interesting.”
 

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