Maths students get together for a challenging, enjoyable day

Published 14 May 2010

mathsstudentAbout 200 students from 30 schools throughout northern NSW came together at the University of New England today to share their interest in mathematics in a full day of enjoyable and challenging mathematics-based activities.

Now in its 16th year, the annual Year 8 Mathematics Day at UNE has widened the mathematical horizons of more than 4,000 school students over the years. Working in teams of four, the students develop skills in cooperative problem solving and applying mathematics to real-life problems.

The students at today’s event, accompanied by mathematics teachers and parents, came from as far away as Wee Waa, Tenterfield, Grafton and Port Macquarie. A team from Manilla Central School won the trophy in the Central Schools division, with Bowraville Central School coming second. For the first time at a Year 8 Mathematics Day, a team from Camden Haven High School won the High Schools Division. A team from The Armidale School was in second place. Each of the members of the two winning teams received a certificate and a medallion, and their schools will hold the perpetual trophies throughout the coming year.

The event is sponsored each year by the UNE-based National Centre of Science, ICT and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR), UNE’s School of Education, and the New England Mathematical Association.

“Mathematics is often  an individual activity,” said UNE’s Professor John Pegg, the Director of SiMERR, “but the Maths Day is all about students working collaboratively. They practise talking to each other about maths while working in teams to solve more than 100 mathematical problems.”

“It’s important for students who are keen on mathematics to meet like-minded students,” said Anne Parnell, Head Mathematics Teacher at Armidale High School. “Those from small schools, in particular, can often feel as though they’re by themselves.”

Ms Parnell said the activities at the Maths Day were “different – and much more fun” than most classroom activities.

At the end of the day, Professor Pegg thanked all those involved, and in particular the teachers from the New England Mathematical Association who had devised the questions and answers for the day.

Clicking on the photograph of a calculating maths student displayed here reveals the scene of mathematical activity in UNE’s Lazenby Hall today.