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200+ youngsters turn out for Maths Olympiad

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Hundreds of the Island’s keenest young mathematicians put their skills to the test yesterday for the Mathematics Olympiad.

So many turned up that volunteers were tested in grading them in time for the prize giving.

“This is probably the most papers we’ve ever marked,” Centre for Talented Youth (CTY) deputy Tossha Graff told the assembled students and parents as she announced the winners. “I thought at one point we wouldn’t have the results.”

Even students too young to qualify for prizes eschewed a sunny day to take the test.

Out of the 260 who registered, over 200 packed Berkeley Institute, said organiser and founder Riquette Bonne-Smith, director of CTY.

“I was interested to see how many older students participated this year,” she noted.

The writer of the annual test, Professor Barry Ferguson from Canada’s University of Waterloo, said the questions are drawn in part from the event’s collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University CTY and his own alma mater.

“We respect one another’s rights when we come up with the problems, but after that it’s fair game,” he said. “We look for inspiration wherever we can find it. I pick up books, look up problems, find problems someone else used and alter them.”

It helps when you’ve been creating contests for 27 or so years.

Guest speaker Aries Haziza, who heads catastrophe risk analysis for Allied World Assurance, used his own work to tie in the application of maths with the notion of risk.

“Risk is word you hear day to day; I just wanted people to visualise what you mean by ‘risk’,” he said.

“Intuition is a very important concept in maths. I talked about making mental pictures as a way of visualisation — it’s a good way to understand mathematical concepts.”

For the small army of volunteers who supervise and then correct the Maths Olympiad, the turnout proved especially gratifying.

“It’s amazing to see what a big deal this is to them,” observed volunteer Susie Hall, a learning resource teacher at Bermuda High School who was on hand to welcome students, who commended the community effort to promote maths.

“We’re doing something right if we can get that many children interested in this — we even have little P5 keen beans who aren’t eligible sitting in with the P6 students.”

Useful website: www.ctybermuda.com.

Two time winner: Mahir Wagh, second from left, took the top prize — again — in yesterday’s Maths Olympiad. From left: quiz writer Professor Barry Ferguson; guest speaker Arie Haziza of Allied World Assurance, and Olympiad founder Riquette Bonne-Smith of the Centre for Talented Youth.
Young Achiever

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Published April 29, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 29, 2013 at 12:45 am)

200+ youngsters turn out for Maths Olympiad

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