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CTY aims to provide questions for Math Olympiad

A local organisation that provides classes for gifted children, hopes to add to a bank of international math questions used to test young enthusiasts around the world.

For the last six years, the Centre for Talented Youth Bermuda (CTY) has partnered with the University of Waterloo in Canada to hold the annual CTY Math Olympiad.

The competition is designed to find Bermuda's most promising mathematician in middle and high school and to promote mathematics, in general. Similar competitions are held worldwide.

Until now, questions were provided by the University of Waterloo, but CTY hopes that in the future some of the questions in the CTY Math Olympiad will be homegrown.

Bermuda College statistician, Pamela Maxwell Clarke, and CTY executive director, Riquette Bonne-Smith, recently travelled to Ontario, Canada to meet the people at the University of Waterloo who oversee the competition.

“Our goal at CTY is to become a centre that creates a bank of questions to submit to the University of Waterloo,” said Mrs Bonne-Smith. “At the University of Waterloo we were lucky enough to meet some of the people who create the questions, and interact with them for the first time.”

Local Math Olympiad coordinator Andre Perez said the Math Olympiad questions start at primary six level and continue through high school.

“There are eight levels in total,” the actuary said. “The questions are fair. An ordinary student in each age level should be able to complete them. However, there are kids who decide to take an exam above their level. Last year the winner of the first category, primary six, was actually a primary four student. That was wonderful. Some kids can take a higher level if they feel they are capable.

“When the Math Olympiad started Riquette was a bit short of [volunteer graders]. I said to her, 'You are lucky to have an Island with a lot of actuaries and rumour has it we are good at math,'” he laughed. “'Why don't we help you out?' I sent an e-mail out for actuaries to help us and we had a great turn out.”

Some of the early winners from past local Math Olympiads have gone on to do well in their studies. One was Kevin Minors, now a maths student at England's University of Oxford.

“He has said that he is very grateful for the Math Olympiad,” said Mrs Bonne-Smith. “We have a lot of successful stories who are doing well. We have kids who are doing actuary studies now.”

Mr Perez said that maths opens many doors for people who are good at it. When he is grading exams, he is always on the lookout for possible future actuaries.

“I think what I like about the Math Olympiad is it brings a certain yardstick across the Island,” he said. “It encourages the bright sparks to showcase their talent. Math is just the beginning. It opens the doors to many things whether it is engineering, finance or actuarial studies, among other things. Some kids do have a love of math. It is not so uncool after all, I like to think that.”

Mrs Bonne-Smith said she wants to see more senior schools involved in Math Olympiad.

“Last year, our greatest turnout was 214 students from 25 schools, but one secondary school had only two kids turn out,” she said. “That was shameful. There have been companies looking at Math Olympiad to find students for summer work. This is a great opportunity.”

The next Math Olympiad will be held in May. Students who wish to take part are advised to start “training” next month. Practice questions are sent to all Bermuda schools, and there are also resources on the internet.

For more information, or to participate as a grader, telephone CTY on 296-7259 or e-mail cty[AT]tbinet.bm.

CTY Math Olympiad organisers Riquette Bonne-Smith, Pamela Maxwell Clarke and Andre Perez.

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Published December 10, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 12, 2010 at 3:10 pm)

CTY aims to provide questions for Math Olympiad

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