Nearly 200 students from 28 schools throughout northern NSW put their mathematical skills to the test last Friday as they competed in the annual Year 8 Mathematics Day at the University of New England.
Working in small teams, they tackled a range of challenging but enjoyable problems in the annual competition organised by the New England Mathematical Association, UNE’s School of Education, and the UNE-based National Centre of Science, ICT and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR).
This was the 14th annual Year 8 Mathematics Day â€“ the only event of its kind in Australia. Students and teachers came from 17 towns and regional cities, including some as far away as Tweed Heads, Narrabri, Moree and Camden Haven.
David Middlebrook, a mathematics teacher from Camden Haven High School, said the day had been “challenging” for the students in a way that would “maintain their enthusiasm” for the subject. Mr Middlebrook’s Camden Haven colleague, Sheena Gunn, said the experience of teamwork had been a valuable one. “It’s been a lesson in listening to each other,” she said.
Students from Ashford Central School have travelled to Armidale for the event every year since 1996, and this year a team from the school won the Central Schools Division of the competition. A team from St Philomena’s, Moree, came second, and teams from Bowraville Central and Holy Trinity, Inverell, tied for third place.
In the High Schools Division, teams from The Armidale School and Oxley High School in Tamworth came first and second respectively, and teams from Duval High School, Armidale, and Coffs Harbour Christian School tied for third place. The Oxley High team that won second place also received a special prize as winner of the “mathematics trivia” contest.
Each of the four members of the two winning teams received a certificate and a medallion, and their schools will hold the perpetual trophies for the coming year.
In announcing the winning teams, UNE’s Professor John Pegg, the Director of SiMERR, said this year’s had been the closest contest yet, with as little as a single point separating the top teams.
Professor Pegg urged the students to start thinking about doing high-level mathematics courses in Years 11 and 12. “In pursuing the study of mathematics you have the potential to do both yourselves and your country a lot of good,” he said.