Three ‘Human Calculators’ Emerged Winners in 2024 Diocesan Schools’ Math Bee

Michael Mazza, Diksha Mukherjee, and Samantha Lema were the top three winners at the Diocesan Math Bee. (Photo: Alicia Venter)

HOWARD BEACH — Middle school Catholic students from across the diocese faced off in the annual Math Bee, putting their quick-thinking skills to the test. After winning at their respective schools, 30 students from sixth to eighth grade came together in Father Dooley Hall at St. Helen Academy on Tuesday, Feb. 27. 

It took 21 rounds for Diksha Mukherjee, a sixth grader from Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy in Floral Park to earn the first-place spot. Each round had a different kind of difficulty — from converting decimals to fractions, to performing math equations with up to eight different steps. In the final round, it was knowing the definition of a domain.

“I was really happy because I never saw a girl who won in math before,” Diksha said.

Through the last few rounds, Diksha went back and forth with Samantha Lema, an eighth grade student from Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy in Jackson Heights. 

Appearing calm and collected on the stage, Samantha had prepared for the competition with her sister. While she was impressed by all those around her, she was simultaneously hoping that they would answer incorrectly.

“When it came down to me and Diksha, I was really scared because she knows a lot of things really quickly. When she said the definition, I knew I was done,” Samantha added.

Michael Mazza, an eighth grader from St. Bernadette Catholic Academy in Dyker Heights, placed third in the competition. 

Diksha Mukherjee won first place in the Diocesan Math Bee. She is a sixth grade student at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy. (Photo: Alicia Venter)

When he was left on the stage with just Samantha and Diksha, he let out a sigh of relief and calmed down, but when he was trying to solve a math problem he just “added a number that wasn’t there.”

“The first rounds were definitely much harder because that is when your heart is really racing,” Michael said.

Each year for the past two decades, the diocese hosts two Math Bee competitions: upper grades (6-8) and middle grades (3-5). There are typically two regional competitions preceding the Diocesan Math Bee, but due to poor weather conditions, they were canceled this year. All 30 students received trophies, with the top three being larger than the others.

Chris Scharbach, the principal at St. Francis DeSales Catholic Academy in Belle Harbor, moderated the Math Bee, asking questions and explaining the rules of each round to the contestants.

“This is a really exciting day in the diocese. We live in a period of time where students can use a calculator for almost everything. It is nice to see the brains in action and to see almost human calculators up on stage,” he said.

One thought on “Three ‘Human Calculators’ Emerged Winners in 2024 Diocesan Schools’ Math Bee