Maths Challenge 2017

20 June 2017

More than 500 entries were submitted for this year's Schools Mathematics Challenge, organised by the Department of Mathematics, the Centre for Widening Participation, Equality and Social Inclusion (CWPESI), and the Further Maths Support Programme Wales. Children in years 7 to 10 from across mid-Wales were invited to spend their February half-term answering tricky maths questions ... and many of them did so! The results were announced this week, and eighty winners were presented with their prizes at an awards ceremony on the Penglais Campus.

Students from the Department of Mathematics marked the responses to questions about fairground rides and sports. Examples included how best to organise a badminton tournament, good strategies for winning games of chance, the length of a helter-skelter slide, and how to get home from a theme park with inadequate transport. Debra Croft, Director of CWPESI, commented on both the commitment of the schoolchildren and their evident talent for mathematics, noting that many of the scripts showed a truly excellent grasp of the subject.

Winners and their families were treated to a presentation by Dr Tudur Davies of the Department of Mathematics on where best to place the ball in rugby to maximize the chance of scoring a conversion. Taking the idea of the different ways of cutting a cone, he showed that the elliptical rugby ball is best placed at a point on a hyperbolic line, chosen based on where the try was scored, and that when kicked it will follow a parabolic arc.

Adrian Wells from the Further Maths Support Programme said "It was a pleasure to work with the University and the Mathematics Department in particular to give younger students the opportunity to display their interest and abilities within Mathematics". Simon Cox, Head of the Department of Mathematics, added "The Department does a lot of work with local schools, using the expertise of our academics to deliver maths in exciting, innovative ways which engages the interest of young people. We were delighted that more than 500 schoolchildren tried our Maths Challenge this year and would like to thank all the schools taking part for their support."