Whanganui High School find the winning formula

Winning team from Whanganui High School (left) George Iliffe, Josiah Kirk, Owen Parkinson and Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas. 

Secondary school students were able to put their mathematical skills to the test at Massey University today, with Whanganui High School taking top honours.

The annual Massey Manawatū Maths and Stats (M3S) Competition brought together 60 students from eight schools around the region, including Waiopehu College, Feilding High School, Wanganui High School, Palmerston North Girls’ High School, Awatapu College, Dannevirke High School, Freyberg High School, and Palmerston North Boys’ High School.

The competition involves teams of three Year 12 high school pupils who must answer NCEA Level 1 Mathematics and Statistics level questions without the use of calculators. The questions aim to emphasise problem solving skills and the ability to work as a team, as teams must decide how long to spend on each question.

MC Dr Richard Brown, of the Institute of Fundamental Sciences said, “the competition provides an exciting opportunity for students to experience the kind of competitive environment usually reserved for sporting competitions – but in an academic context.”

“They meet other like-minded students from a wide range different schools, and also get insight into what it’s like in the university world, with opportunities to meet and mingle with working mathematicians and Massey students. The competition provides students motivation to excel at mathematics, and encouragement to continue their mathematical passion into university study.

The winning team from Whanganui High School team comprised of George Iliffe, Josiah Kirk and Owen Parkinson. Freyberg High School took second place. However, all students received participation certificates.

Head of the Institute of Fundamental Sciences Professor Martin Hazelton said good mathematical training can provide a wealth of opportunities for students.

“A good mathematical training opens lots of doors for students, with prospective employers handling ever increasing amounts of data. Mathematics and statistics provide the tools to understand these data, to tease out important patterns from a mass of numbers. The applications are endless, from predicting the stock market, to unravelling genetic information in order to personalise medical treatments.

“It is little wonder that mathematicians and statisticians are continually ranked in the top five most desirable jobs by international career analysts.”

The programme was established in 2014 as a promotional drive to encourage students to study mathematics and statistics at the University. Massey mathematics and statistics students marked the questions.

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