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Whanganui find the winning formula

Winning team from Whanganui High School (Left) Ahimsha Saravanapavan, Nanea Schurhammer and Ben Power

Year 12 students from Whanganui High School have yet again taken out the M3S: Massey Manawatu Maths and Stats Competition, despite strong competition from around the central North Island. 

Now in its fifth year, the competition gives students an opportunity to engage in mathematics and statistics, working in teams on problems that require not only skill, but also time management. This year 22 teams took part from Taranaki to Kāpiti.

The 64 Students came from eight schools around the region, including Feilding High School, Whanganui High School, Palmerston North Girls’ High School, Awatapu College, Dannevirke High School, Freyberg High School, Hastings Boys’ High School, Kapiti College, Longburn Adventist College, Francis Douglas Memorial College and Palmerston North Boys’ High School.

Whanganui High School’s winning team comprised Nanea Schurhammer, Ben Power and Ahimsha Saravanapava, with a team from Francis Douglas Memorial College in second place, and Palmerston North Girls’ High School and Awatapu College tied for third place.

Remarkably, Whanganui High School have won the competition in 2015, 2017 and came a close second in 2016.

The four top teams from Whanganui High School, Awatapu College, Palmerston North Girls’ High School and Francis Douglas Memorial College

Sample question

To gauge the calibre of the questions, the final test involved tracing all solid lines in a diagram without lifting their pen from the page. They had to find the least distance that the tip of the pen must travel, starting at any point (Answer at bottom of page).

Second place winners from Francis Douglas Memorial College

New format

Massey University senior mathematics tutor Dr Cami Sawyer says the format has changed this year to allow for more teams. 

“The old format allowed for about 60 year 12 students from around the region to participate. This year the format shifted to a quiz-like format with five rounds. They get all the questions at once and have a fixed period of time to solve them. The first rounds will be 12 min each. The last round is just one question and they have around ten minutes.

“It is great to see the students working hard and sharing ideas with each other to solve challenging problems,” she says.

“Days like this provide mathematically gifted students a chance to showcase their talent, work in groups, and see mathematics and statistics as more than just subjects, but actual study paths at university and careers. These kinds of days are also better reflections of real mathematics careers as working in groups to solve problems is more reflective of the industry, than sitting at a desk alone solving problems in isolation with a three-hour time limit.”

Head of the Institute of Fundamental Sciences Professor Martin Hazelton says students should stick with these disciplines. 

“The jobs we have today and increasingly the jobs of the future will need the skills you have demonstrated today, so keep at in class and it is going to pay-off in your future careers.”

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 staff and students helped run the day and mark the questions. It takes a team to find interesting questions at the right level and to make the whole day run smoothly, including Dr Richard Brown as MC.

Answer to sample question: 52

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