America’s Top “Mathlete” Mark Sellke, from Lafayette, Indiana

Lafayette, Indiana native Mark Sellke was named America’s top “Mathlete” last Friday at the 2010 national Raytheon MATHCOUNTS┬« competition. The battle was waged in Florida at Walt Disney World among 224 contestants representing the top mathematics wise guys in middle schools across the United States.

Along with the first place win, Mark was awarded a trip to the US Space Camp in Alabama and a hefty $8,000 scholarship.

Sellke took home the prestigious award by answering this question:

“To play the following game, you start with $1. With each move, you can either double your money or add $1 to it. What is the smallest number of moves you have to make to get to exactly $200?” (Just in case you want to try your hand, we’ve put the answer at the bottom of this article.)

Lafayette is a city of about 60,000 Hoosiers, located about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis in Central Indiana. The community is well-known for its strong K-12 system, and is also the home base of Purdue University. Mathlete Mark Sellke attends the eighth grade at Lafayette’s Klondike Middle School.

The competition came to its pinnacle during an intense Countdown Round. The twelve top Mathletes went one on one to determine who would become the national champion of the 2010 MATHCOUNTS battle of the brains. Lafayette’s Mark Sellke won top honors, over Kansas resident Shyam Narayanan, who took second place.

The team from Indiana also made an excellent showing, placing fifth out of 55 state teams.

The Indiana MATHCOUNTS team in the Nationals, is pictured here. From left to right: Coach Robert Fischer, Mark Sellke, Yushi Homma, Jerry Ma, David Liang, Coach Trent Tormoehlen

Mark, who is just 13, already has some experience under his belt, having competed three times on the national level. This year, however, was the first time he won. It was also a first for Indiana.

(Proving to yourself that you are smarter than an eighth-grader? The winning answer was: 9)

Read about other notable people from Indianapolis and its environs.