In early June, students undertaking the Year 11 Mathematics Extension 1 course attended the Talented Mathematics Students Day hosted by Sydney Technical High School. SGCS sent two teams, one of which consisted of Year 10 students in our accelerated program, to compete against 12 other teams from schools in the local area.
The day consisted of four different types of competitions and was modelled off an event for Year 12 students at ANU in Canberra.
The first activity, the Group Competition, was simple. As a team, in 45 minutes, the students were required to answer as many of the 14 questions as possible, which increased in difficulty as the questions progressed. It required the team to divide and conquer, as well as helping each other with checking the validity of their solutions to ensure that they were correct.
The second activity, the Swiss Challenge, took the students back to Year 7 with tables of values. Two teams sat in alternating order to compete, taking turns down a line to guess the next number in the table based on some given values and a hint to the rule of the table. This activity targeted the students’ critical thinking skills to determine the convoluted pattern and their mental arithmetic to find the values afterwards. The clash between our teams during the Swiss Challenge was memorable.
For their third activity, each team of students were split into two groups of 2 and 3, for the Cross Competition. They completed a numerical crossword puzzle, but there was a catch, each group was specifically in charge of finding numbers based on either the down or across clues, and the communication between the split groups was limited to the supervising teacher providing the numbers that the other group had calculated.
The final activity consisted of a Mathematical Relay Competition. Once again, the teams were split into groups of 2 and 3, where they needed to complete a series of 20 questions in 45 minutes. However, one group was in control of all the even questions, and those in the other group oversaw all the odd questions. Each group had 3 attempts of answering their question correctly, increasing in difficulty, although if one group was ahead by a question, they had to wait until the other group had caught up until they could retrieve the next question.
While both of our teams made a strong showing (including outplaying selective schools in several competitions!), neither achieved a podium position. However, student learned the value of using their mathematical knowledge to think outside-of-the-box, rather than always merely following a procedural method to solve problems. They also used this experience to learn about how they processed questions and thought.
All our students can attest to having a great time and strongly encourage any future mathematicians to look out for this opportunity.