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Winning students to visit Wellington and meet Terry Tao

Winning students to visit Wellington and meet maths great Terry Tao

27 August 2013

For immediate release

Sixteen budding mathematicians in Years 7-10 are headed to Wellington on Thursday (29 August) to meet with one of the world’s greatest maths prodigies and to tour Parliament, Te Papa and Weta Digital.

They are prize winners of ‘The Maths Quest’, a poster competition being run by the New Zealand Mathematical Society and the New Zealand Association of Mathematics Teachers to celebrate 2013 as the international year of the Mathematics of Planet Earth and the international Year of Statistics.

The students were tasked with producing a poster on a number of themes that expressed the relevance of mathematics to everyday life. There were seven themes including ‘Unusual jobs using mathematics’, ‘Mathematics of Life’ and ‘Mathematics of Planet Earth and Beyond’.

The winners are coming from all around the country including a student from as far away as Pitt Island in the Chatham Islands. Stella Graydon, who is Year 8 at Pitt Island School, created a poster on the mathematics behind traffic lights, despite there not being any traffic lights where she lives.

Dr Graham Weir, President of the New Zealand Mathematical Society, says one of the highlights for these talented students will be getting to meet Professor Terrance Tao.

“Terry is the youngest mathematician to win any of the Bronze, Silver or Gold Medals at the International Mathematics Olympiad. He has won the Fields Medal – the equivalent in mathematics of the Nobel Prize. It will be an amazing experience for these students to meet arguably the world’s greatest living maths prodigy.”

Terence "Terry" Tao FRS was born in 1975 in Adelaide. According to Smithsonian Online Magazine, Tao could carry out basic arithmetic by the age of two. He published his first paper at age 15, and received his bachelor's and master's degrees at the age of 16 from Flinders University. He earned his PhD at age 20 from Princeton University and at age 24 was made a full professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2006 he was awarded the Fields Medal, the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize, for his for his contributions to partial differential equations, combinatorics, harmonic analysis and additive number theory.

While in Wellington, in addition to meeting Professor Tao, the winners will visit Te Papa and experience the ‘Awesome Forces’ exhibition that explains New Zealand’s seismic activity. They will also visit Parliament, where they will hear from Minister of Youth Affairs and Associate Minister of Education, Hon Nikki Kaye. They will finish their visit with a trip to Weta Digital, but they won’t leave empty handed. The winners and their teachers each receive mini iPads.

“The Maths Quest has been possible largely by the generosity of all of the New Zealand university mathematics and statistics departments or schools (Auckland, AUT, Waikato, Massey, Victoria, Canterbury and Otago), the Alan Wilson Centre and The MacDiarmid Institute, Weta Digitial, Statistics New Zealand and Casio,” says Dr Weir.

“I thank all of these sponsors for their generosity, which has made The Maths Quest possible, and I hope it will be an inspiring experience for all of the students involved.”

List of winners by region

• Cameron Baxter, Year 9, Massey High School, Massey West
• Henna Shah, Year 8, Al-Madinah School, Mangere
• Sonna Narayanan, Year 10, Botany Downs Secondary College, Botany Downs
• Brooke Varney, Year 8, ACG Strathallan, Papakura
• Lakshitha Singhalage, Year 8, Remuera Intermediate, Remuera

• Connor Coll, Year 10, Te Kuiti High School, Te Kuiti
• Kate Anderson, Year 7, Fairfield Intermediate School, Hamilton

Central North Island:
• Kyra van Geffen, Year 7, Opaki School, Masterton
• Jessica Hansen, Year 7, Woodford House, Havelock North
• Hadley Hudson, Year 8, Palmerston North Intermediate Normal, Palmerston North
• Jack Milne, Year 7, Ross Intermediate, Palmerston North
• Samantha O’Connor, Year 10, Palmerston North Girls’ High School, Palmerston North
• Stuart Rayner-Nielsen, Year 10, Fielding High School, Fielding
• Matthew Schweikert, Year 10, Fielding High School, Fielding

South Island:
• Ruben Krueger, Year 9, Nayland College, Nelson
• Ethen Gerrard, Year 9, Rangiora High School, Rangiora

Chatham Islands:
• Stella Graydon, Year 8, Pitt Island School, Pitt Island


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