Posted: January 1, 1970

The United Kingdom Mathematics Trust celebrated its twentieth anniversary last year.

It exists to promote mathematics to all year groups and last year just under SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND = Junior = 303, 020, Intermediate 262,040  Senior  & 110,500, students participated in the various challenges.  Team challenges are a more recent idea and these are very well received – there is one for Y8/Y9 and one for 6th form but nothing for Y10/Y11.  Within Kent, Invicta Grammar School (Maidstone) have filled this void with their own version of the team challenge. We have participated for the last four years.

Normally there are around eight or nine teams but this year there were sixteen. The cast list was Aylesford, Fullston Manor, Hayesbrook, Highstead, Invicta, Maidstone Girls Grammar, Maplesden Noakes, Mayfield, Sandwich Tech, Langton Boys, Lenham and Wrotham with some schools putting in two teams. These represented six grammar teams and ten non-grammar teams. Historically I have become quite good at reporting this event with comments like ‘they enjoyed taking part’ and ‘bring on next year’, but this year I can report something a lot more positive.

The Y10 team of Caitlin Pearcy, Emily Cheesman, Charlotte Rendle and Phoebe Taylor came tenth.

The Y11 team of Callum Balch, Matthew Sayer, Edijs Jakolevs and Ryan Batchelor came eighth (top half!).

Okay, as the name suggests they found it challenging. They approached it with enthusiasm. I had asked the girls to beat the boys, and the boys response was “no way that’s going to happen”, which ensured competition between our teams. I also gave them some coaching before we went.  After round one, both teams were near the top, but as the rounds progressed they slowly slid down the rankings. But 8th and 10th is a very creditable performance. Well done to all of them. Invicta are holding another heat in January, and there is a possibility that the boys team could be invited back for the final in February.

To put things into perspective, a few staff joined forces and took part as well … after two rounds we were losing to Langton! A comment overheard on the day from a student was “I took my GCSE maths in Year 6” which shows the standard we were up against!

Why is Maths Challenge so popular? The mathematics is challenging to near-impossible for mere mortals but a lot of the questions are set in a puzzle context involving all manner of creatures, cartoon characters and made up situations. All mathematical aids are banned – no calculators, rulers, protractors or anything! For example, from last years’ UKIMC:

“The world’s fastest tortoise is acknowledged to be a leopard tortoise called Bertie from County Durham. In July 2014, Bertie sprinted a 5.5m track in an astonishing 19.6 seconds. What was Bertie’s approximate speed in km per hour?   A) 0.1   B) 0.5   C) 1    D) 5    E) 10”

Have fun solving it!

Mark Towlson

Maths Department