This year PLC Sydney students are taking part in national and international competitions in record numbers. The school is reaching out to a wider group of students to encourage participation in Mathematics at the highest levels. In turn, we are developing their skills to apply Mathematics in a wide variety of real life contexts and to work cooperatively with others. We want our girls to build strong qualifications to enter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers at their choosing. Dr Dawe, our Mathematician in Residence, has particular responsibility for the program.
This term 133 girls from Years 5 to 9 are taking part in the ‘Challenge Stage’ of the Mathematics for Young Australians Competition. This three-week intensive course is an introduction to problem solving where they can work with a buddy. It is followed by a more difficult ‘Enrichment Stage’ over a longer period of time, where they must work on their own. The whole program culminates in the Australian Mathematics Intermediate Olympiad (AIMO), a tough four-hour contest held in September. Last year for example, 1306 students from 198 schools in Australia and overseas were invited to sit, six from PLC Sydney. Four of our girls obtained wonderful results, with Esther Kang taking out a distinction.
In late April, Year 7 student Stephanie Howes was invited to sit for the first round (30 questions in two hours) of the Asia Pacific Mathematical Olympiad for Primary Schools (APMOPS). By contrast to the AIMO, which rewards progress towards solutions and a tough investigational task, only correct answers are counted in APMOPS. Speed and accuracy, flexibility of thought, and high reasoning skills are essential. The tasks given are at least equal to the AIMO in difficulty. For any primary student this is a very difficult contest.
Another initiative for PLC Sydney in 2015 has been participation in the Computational and Algorithmic Thinking (CAT) Competition run by the Australian Mathematics Trust. It is designed to identify computer programming potential. Our top class of Year 8 Mathematics students, enthused by Mr Sinclair their teacher, entered. Angeni Bai got a perfect score and there were two distinctions and six credits.
Finally, in early June, a record number of students (56 in the junior division for Year 10 and under, and six in the senior for Years 11-12) will take part in the University of NSW School Maths Competition. This is a three-hour contest where students can attempt solutions to six tough problems set by lecturers from UNSW Mathematics Department. Last year Tien Tran, then in Year 10, obtained a distinction and a $50 cash prize in the Junior Division, while Emma Tanevska and Philippa Lam (Year 10), Hingis Li (Year 9), and Salina Ai (Year 8) received credits. This is a wonderful achievement. We wish all our students well in the coming contest.
Above: Dr Lloyd Dawe with students in Years 8-11 Advanced Mathematics classes who participated in the 54th Annual UNSW Maths Competition.