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“Do The Math” Day For New Zealand Schools

Thursday 4 August 2005

“Do The Math” Day For New Zealand Schools

Today New Zealand primary and secondary school students will join several hundred thousand students who, like many of their parents before them, will compete in the Australian Mathematics Competition for the Westpac Awards. The total number of entries has multiplied to a record level this year. With almost 11 million entries since it started 28 years ago, it is the original and first competition of its kind globally.

Based on problem solving and designed to make maths more fun, students from 38 countries ranging from the USA to India will attempt questions such as the following, taken from the 2004 Junior and Intermediate papers. Test your skill!

Problem: A farmer buys a truckload of 30 bales of hay to feed his cattle. He intends to feed his cattle two thirds of a bale each day to supplement their diets. For how many days will this load last? (A) 36 (B) 39 (C) 42 (D) 45 (E) 48 Answer: (D) Solution: If the farmer uses two-thirds of a bale per day, he will use 2 bales in 3 days. So, the hay will last 45 days.

The competition is conducted by the not-for-profit Canberra based Australian Mathematics Trust. Professor Peter Taylor, Executive Director of the Trust, said, " I believe young people have a growing appreciation that the rapid advances in technology, which they in particular use and enjoy, is all about maths. Not only is maths basic and essential, it is exciting!”

Westpac has sponsored the competition from the start. Jo Sihamu, Head of Community Affairs, Westpac, New Zealand, said" As a bank we understand how important mathematics skills are in today’s society. Numeracy is a core skill that can provide the foundation for financial literacy and help young people manage their money better.”

There are separate multiple-choice papers with 30 maths-based problems for Middle Primary School (Years 4-5); Upper Primary (Years 6-7) - both 60 minute papers; and 75 minute papers for Juniors (Years 8-9), Intermediates (Years 10-11) and Seniors (Years 12-13). Around 1600 cash prizes in addition to certificates of high distinction, distinction, credit or participation are awarded each year.

Approximately 50 students, who are outstanding both within their state or country and overall in the competition, are awarded medals at special annual ceremonies. This year, the New Zealand medallists will receive their awards in Christchurch on 28 September.

New Zealand works closely with its Australian counterparts and has a member on both the Australian Mathematics Competition Organising Committee and the Problems Committee. Results from the Competition are received by the New Zealand Mathematics Olympiad Committee and used to identify talented students for the Olympiad training program.


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