‘Little Figures’ win national competition, meet book author

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Little Figures Iman Zakaria, 12, Londyn Hall, 13, and Breanna Hutchison, 13, shake hands with Margot Lee Shetterly, author of “Hidden Figures” after the President’s Lecture Sept. 20 in Watson at St. Philip’s. The Little Figures is a math team of San Antonio middle schoolers who created a video inspired by the African-American women in the movie “Hidden Figures” and were the 2017-2018 winners of the Math Film Challenge. The challenge was to create a video about solving a math problem in a real-world setting to get students excited about math. The video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEtKUR9X0ng. Deandra Gonzalez

Four local students attended the Mathcounts Math Film Challenge National Competition in Washington, D.C.

By Kathya Anguiano


A group of four students called “Little Figures” from the local National Society of Black Engineers San Antonio Junior Chapter, who created a video about a math problem for the Mathcounts math film challenge national competition and won, got to meet “Hidden Figures” author Margot Lee Shetterly at a President’s Lecture at St. Philip’s College Sept. 20.

The group includes Breanna Hutchison, eighth grade, BASIS North Central; Londyn Hall, eighth grade, Keystone School; Iman Zakaria, seventh grade, Tejeda Middle School; and Lindsey Simmons, ninth grade, Brennan High School.

The math competition started in March, with nationals May 12-15.

They decided to become a group when they came across a math problem that aligned with a theme from the book and movie “Hidden Figures,” thus calling themselves “Little Figures.”

“The girls wanted to participate in the math video competition because all of them enjoy math and science and are very empowered to think that girls can excel in math and science just as boys do,” Shawne Zakaria, Iman’s mom, said.

For the competition, the team had to select and solve one of several hundred math problems and use a short 5-minute video or film to teach and show real world application of the selected math problem.

“Making the video was one of the best experiences I’ve had with NSBE. I really loved working with my friends and creating a video that was unique and innovative,” Londyn said.

To qualify for the competition, the film had to make the top 100 after general public voting on the Mathcounts website. The “Little Figures” team was No. 1 by a large margin.

“I was able to experience a different side of teamwork and how much fun math can be,” Breanna said of her experience while making the video.

Once qualified, the top 100 were judged and narrowed to the top 20 and then the top four received an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the national finals competition in May.

“We had a lot of fun and it was hard, I’m not going to lie, but it was nice working with people and getting to know each other better. Definitely a bonding experience,” Lindsey said.

The “Little Figures” film passed the two rounds of judging and the girls were able to visit D.C. and won first place along with $1,000 scholarships each.

“During the video, I learned a lot about teamwork and learned how to understand different math vocabulary and how to handle more complicated problems,” Iman said.

After the film competition, the girls were anxious to meet the author of “Hidden Figures” at the St. Philip’s lecture.

“Ms. Shetterly told us to ‘never give up; always stick with your dreams’ and hearing that from another African-American woman just like me was very inspirational,” Iman said.

The “Little Figures” are working on a second film for next year’s competition and are hoping to have a second win.

The video created by “Little Figures” can be found at https://videochallenge.mathcounts.org/winning-videos.


Leave A Reply