Indianapolis school celebrates national math champion

Chad Qian shows how he solved the winning math problem.

A Carmel eighth grader has captured the hearts of his fellow classmates with his ability to solve some complicated problems.

Arriving at school for Chad Qian has never looked like it looked last week, with dozens of classmates cheering his return. The eighth grade math champion made his entrance to the Sycamore School, following his recent trip to Florida to chants of "Chad! Chad! Chad!"

What does he think about the reception? 

He said simply, "It was awesome."

In the school auditorium, classmates cheered while watching the replay of Chad's win at the Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition at DisneyWorld. He did it with the answer to this question: "A bag of coins containing only pennies, nickels and dimes, with at least five of each, how many different combined values. If five coins were selected at random?"

After several moments of deep thought and a solemn look of concentration on his face, he hit the buzzer and said, "21."

"21 is the correct answer!" replied the MATHCOUNTS host.

Cheering broke out in the school auditorium.

He said he wrote out the solution, using a math theory called "sticks and stones" that allowed him to calculate the correct answer. His teachers say he has spent hours with other students on what he loves.

"What's been great about Chad is you see him here early in the morning at 7:30, coming in with about 45 other kids who just like to do math, it's fun to do math, it's not threatening to do math, it's okay to make mistakes," said Jamie MacDougall, head of the middle school at Sycamore.

Chad becomes the second Indiana student to win the competition in the last three years. A student from West Lafayette won in 2010.

As for Chad, he wins an $8,000 scholarship and a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

And as for his future?  He says he recently job-shadowed a neurosurgeon.

"I like the medical field, because it helps people with various diseases and stuff and I like helping people," he said.

But before that, Chad says he's thinking about attending college at Harvard.