An exciting competition for budding mathematicians

Hastings school mathematics competition

An exciting competition to stimulate the minds of students is being run in the mathematics department. Eighteen mathematical challenges have been put up around the Academy to give encouragement and recognition to all budding mathematicians.

In the run up to the competition students were told about Russian scholar Grigory Perelman who solved a puzzle that had bewildered the world’s greatest mathematicians for over a century. They heard how he earned the right to claim a million dollar reward from the Clay Mathematics Institute and how his solution of the Poincare Conjecture would have earned him the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel prize – a Fields Medal. They were surprised to hear how Perelman rejected both the money and the glory as his solution was made simply for “…the love of Mathematics…”

After relating this story, Mr. Smallman - Year 10 mathematics teacher - is happy to report that a few of his Year 10 students regularly decline the Academy’s rewards (Bridge) points a as a result of Perelman’s selfless example! 

It took nearly a hundred years of effort by mathematicians before Perelman solved the Poincare Conjecture, so the mathematics department have set a much humbler target. The questions are not the usual sort required at GCSE and will require all hopefuls to think ‘outside the box’ for more than a few minutes. For some inspiration, students have been told to heed Einstein’s advice: “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s that I stay with problems longer.” 

Mr. Smallman said, “The wonderful thing about mathematics is that there is always a more elegant or even beautiful solution and I would sooner publish a student’s solution than my own, so get cracking.”. He went on to say “For any Year 7 who thinks this is not a competition he could win, take note. Perhaps the greatest mathematician of all time, Carl Gauss, demonstrated superb reasoning at the age of eleven. His lazy teacher had asked all his boys to add up the numbers from 1 to 100 in the belief that it would take up the whole lesson. Much to the master’s surprise Gauss presented the correct solution in less than a minute. He had realized that 1+100, 2+99, 3+98 etc. all sum to 101. As a result, the solution must simply be 50 pairs of sums that add up to 101 … 5050. Not bad for an eleven year old; not bad at all. Can anyone do better?”

The mathematical challenges can be found on the departmental board opposite room L26. The first student to submit eight correct solutions to any of the eighteen problems will win a prize.  Any single correct solution will receive a Bridge point.