Day: January 31, 2023

Robbinsville High Math League Students Notch Recent Wins

January 31, 2023

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–As a child, Srinand Tanakala found fun in numbers.

There were weekends spent solving puzzles like Sudoku with his sister, in addition to more imaginative games, such as calculating the time between lightning strikes and the ensuing boom of thunder.

Today, Tanakala is president of the Robbinsville High School Math League, a growing student organization that has notched recent wins at mathematics competitions around the community, Mercer County and the entire state.

“Math is incredibly thoughtful and trying to think out processes and working together to find solutions to difficult problems is what I have found most rewarding,” Tanakala said. “Working with minds truly interested in mathematics and solving problems that stretch beyond the classroom that have real-world connections is what I find most endearing about this club.”

About 30 students are involved in the student organization at Robbinsville High, ranging from freshmen to seniors. The middle school has a similar club that is also known for its competitive success.

Most of the contests are individual-based; students take written tests and work through complex problems from basic algebra to geometry and pre-calculus.

The competitions are not just about solving equations. Students must apply logic and creative reasoning to find innovative solutions, according to math teacher Alison Rodriguez, who advises the Math League.

This school year has been one of the most successful yet, she said.

“Students are working so hard and they’re putting in the time necessary to be successful and really recognizing that these problems aren’t easy,” said Rodriguez, a veteran educator of 14 years. “They are very, very difficult problems. It has been amazing to watch these students.”

The Math League has finished on top in several recent local competitions, earning first place on December 13 in the Delaware Valley Math League and first place on November 15 and January 17 in the Colonial Valley Math League. Among comparable high schools throughout New Jersey, Robbinsville is consistently landing in the top 15 to 30 schools.

Sarthak Mohapatra, a Robbinsville senior and a member of the Math League since his freshman year, also scored among the top 2.5 percent of competitors in the national American Mathematics Competition. Mohapatra has qualified to take the next round of tests called the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME), a 15-question, three-hour examination. Students who earn a top score on the AIME can then take the United States Math Olympiad or United States Junior Math Olympiad exams, among the most prestigious mathematics contests in the country.

Some students also have earned perfect scores at competitions, such as Aarush Mane. The 14-year-old freshman said he’s been interested in math since he was a child fascinated by rockets.

Mane said his involvement in the program has helped him in more ways than one. Math League, he said, has made him a better problem-solver.

“It’s definitely improving my work ethic in many classes,” said Mane, who dreams of becoming an astronaut. “For me, Math League has not just introduced me to more complex math, but in other areas I’ve learned how you can approach problems in unique ways. It has improved my critical thinking skills, viewing certain situations in different ways.”

Likewise, even though students take individual tests, Tanakala emphasized that teamwork has been central to the club’s success.

“Collaboration is key,” Tanakala said. “We heavily emphasize working together and keeping up sportsmanship. We help each other. We give each other moral support. Any time a person wins a medal, we feel that the whole club has won it.”

After graduation, the 18-year-old senior plans to double major in pre-medicine and computer science in college with the goal of becoming a surgeon.

It is a career path, he said, that illustrates the wide application of mathematical knowledge.

“Math is something that people should not view as restricted to purely a math major,” Tanakala said. “It’s something that stretches to many aspects of the world and society.”

Above Photo: Aarush Mane, teacher Alison Rodriguez and Srinand Tanakala. Photo provided

We Must Protect NJ Farmland From Foreign Investors, Sauickie Says

January 31, 2023

TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey must protect its precious and valuable agricultural lands from potentially hostile foreign investors, Assemblyman Alex Sauickie says.  
Sauickie, the newest member of the Assembly and its Agriculture and Food Security Committee, said he is working hard to protect farmland and recently had a major reform of the state’s farmland preservation program pass the Assembly unanimously.
A bill he introduced last week (A5120) would prohibit foreign governments and persons from owning farmland in the Garden State. He said he was encouraged to see that a similar bill was then promptly introduced in the Senate.
“The bill doesn’t specifically name a particular country or government, but the Chinese Communist Party is on everyone’s mind on this issue. Their government does not yet own much farmland throughout our country, but like them, we need to take the long view and get ahead of any potential threats to our food security,” Sauickie (R-Ocean) said. “In this case, we need to think more about the green fields that feed our people than the greenbacks that could be had by selling them to foreign powers.  It won’t matter how much money you have if there’s no food to buy. We can view this as nothing less than a national security risk.”  
There are 895.3 million active acres of agriculture-related lands throughout the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Of that, foreign governments such as Canada, Germany and Italy own more than 35 million acres. The CCP currently owns what looks like only 192,000 acres, or 0.02% of all the farmland in the U.S.
Investing in foreign farmlands is part of the CCP’s “One Belt One Road” economic development plan, which calls for more direct control of its food supply chain.  The country’s ownership exponentially exploded between 2010 and 2020, from $81 million to $1.8 billion in farmland. Controversially, the Agricultural Bank of China, controlled by the CCP, purchased Smithfield Food, the world’s largest pork producer, back in 2013.  
“The concern I have, in addition to the fact that China is controlled by a totalitarian Communist regime, is not the exact amount owned at the moment, but the speed with which they have exponentially grown their ownings over the last decade,” Sauickie added. “If this continues unabated, we’ll be beholden to Xi Jinping for our families’ food needs.” 
His bill would require foreign governments and persons who already own agricultural land in New Jersey to sell that land five years after the legislation’s passage. The land would have to remain in use for agricultural purposes. 
Nine states – Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin – restrict foreign ownership of agricultural land. Iowa, home to nearly 31 million acres of farmland, has among the strictest. And at least eight other states — Alabama, Arkansas, California, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas – are considering similar bans. (California’s was passed but vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.)
“Food security is critical to ensuring that all New Jersey residents have food on the table. That’s why there’s bipartisan support for banning China from owning American farmland,” Sauickie added. “We need to have strict laws like mine on our books to proactively protect New Jersey farmland and ultimately our food supply from harm.”