Palmerston North Girls’ High School students Maddie Rowan (left), Kate Costello and Aneka Patel.

Maths competition adds up to success

Twenty-one teams of secondary students from across the Manawatū crunched numbers today in the hopes of winning the Massey Manawatū Maths and Stats (M3S) Competition.

The competition was organised by the Mathematics and Statistics group in the Institute of Fundamental Sciences as a way to engage students with mathematics and statistics through fun and challenging problems.

Students worked their way through 35 questions of increasing difficulty for one mark each before tackling a more difficult “finisher” question where the mark depended on speed and accuracy of answer.

In the end, the boys’ team from Wanganui High School won with a total of 23 out of 35 questions correct.

Connor Cresswell from the team said the hardest part of the competition was timing. “Knowing when to pass was really important because we only had an hour so we had to time it right.”

Tutor in statistics Anne Lawrence says she is delighted to see the event grow from 16 schools last year to 21 this year.

“Last year the students and their teachers clearly enjoyed the challenge of solving our problems. There is quite a bit for them to get their heads round in terms of working as a team, deciding how long to struggle with a particular question, and of course, applying their mathematical and statistical thinking to tackle the problems.”

Director of the Mathematics in Industry group at Massey University Professor Emeritus Graeme Wake says mathematical skills are applicable now, more than ever.

“Many industry and community problems can benefit from a mathematical or statistical approach. Worldwide, countries have discovered that mathematics is a high-tech thing that can add value to their enterprise.”

“Mathematics is everywhere and can underpin everything. This is something not everyone appreciates.”

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