Put down the textbook, pick up a buzzer, and enter the world of mathematics competitions. This lively, fast-paced and above all fun test of students’ maths ability and teamwork is increasingly making traditional perceptions of the subject numbered. Since its inception, Australian International School (AIS) has supported the introduction of fun and inventive ways to engage students into the subject and its participation in maths competitions has continued to multiply.
In Vietnam, while generally it is considered as a foreign concept, maths competitions are alive and well in Ho Chi Minh City. The two main series in the city are the Saigon Mathematics Competition (SMC), written and run by teachers, and the Logic Competitions, written and run by students. Additionally, there are also a number of international contests in which a smaller but growing number of students from Vietnam compete.
Speaking on the role in which maths competitions play for students and how important they are, AIS Maths Teacher, Mr Noah Franske shared, ‘A well-rounded school should have opportunities for every type of student. Sports, performing arts, social clubs and excellent academics should be pillars of any good school. Academic competitions are yet another way for all students to have an opportunity to shine. A small but enthusiastic group, Competitive Mathematicians from around the world can make lifelong friends at these competitions. Wit, logic, and mathematical prowess are highly valued at these events and the competitive spirit abounds.’
For students, the reasons why they take part in the competitions ranged extensively. Chi, a Year 7 student, shared “it’s fun! I like the team rounds because we can work together, it’s more fun than working individually.” Vy, a Year 12 student, also appreciated the collaboration aspect, “I like the Passback round because you really depend on your other team members but your individual answer really matters too.’
Other students remarked that it was the challenge itself that motivated them to get involved. “I like solving puzzles! The relay race at our competition was really fun.” shared Jenny, a Year 9 student, while Sohei, also from Year 9 revealed, “I like the questions. They are really hard in the moment but when you solve them at home they seem easy.” Similarly, Vy, a Year 12 student shared, “I like how we have really thought-provoking questions. It can be really exciting to find the answer!”
Going beyond the maths teamwork tasks of the contests, some students also shared wider reasons why they took part. Steve, a Year 11 student, loved the inter-school element of the contests, sharing that it was “cool to attend the competitions at other schools.” While others came purely to help their studies, with Lilly, a Year 9 student revealing, “I come to improve my maths skills beyond what we learn in school.” GK, a Year 9 student, however shared that it didn’t feel It was like the subject at all, “I liked the logic competitions. It’s not all maths, it’s more common sense.”
So far this year, AIS has participated in the following competitions, MathCounts, for Years 7 to 9; Intermediate Logic, for Years 9 to 10; and Senior Logic, for Years 11 to 13. AIS’s most exciting moments have included Jason, a Year 8 student, winning the buzzer round at the MathCounts contest, Year 11 students Chip Pham and Steve Huynh taking third place in the Codebreaker at the Senior Logic competition, and one of AIS’s teams achieving third place in the Passback round at the Intermediate Logic Competition.
The overall takeaway from mathematics competitions is that students who participate have a chance to broadened their mathematical horizons, meet like-minded Mathletes from other schools, and overall can take part in an experience they really enjoy!
To find out about mathematics competitions and maths generally at AIS, check out AIS’s Maths official Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/groups/332717604656569/