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Strathallan maths maestros make their mark

ACG Strathallan has certainly taught many mathematical whiz kids in recent years, and that success looks set to continue. In fact, three current students were recently named among the country’s top 30 after showcasing their skills at the University of Otago Junior Mathematics Competition.
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ACG Strathallan students Harit Patel (Year 11) and Amanjot Kaur (Year 10)

ACG Strathallan has certainly taught many mathematical whiz kids in recent years, and that success looks set to continue. In fact, three current students were recently named among the country’s top 30 after showcasing their skills at the University of Otago Junior Mathematics Competition.

Amanjot Kaur (Year 10), Harit Patel (Year 11) and Benjamin Kuo (Year 9) all took top honours at the event, which this year drew around 4500 participants from 140 schools. Now in its thirty-sixth year, the competition is aimed at students from Years 9 to 11 and has a strong focus on problem-solving.

For maths enthusiast Harit, the Junior Mathematics Competition provides students with something a bit different.

“I enter various competitions with a variety of formats. Some consist of computational and algorithmic thinking (CAT), while others have the more standardised formats such as the International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) online competitions,” Harit says.

“But this competition has its own unique flare. Not only do we have to gain the correct answer, but we also need to display our thinking to the examiners. I’m taking AS-Level mathematics a year earlier than most candidates, so this seemed like a fun challenge to find out how good I am at conveying my thought process.”

The competition was held in two parts, with the first hour focusing on multiple-choice and short answer questions completed entirely online. The top 15 per cent of entrants were then eligible to compete in stage two – an hour-long paper exam.

Harit says the contest strengthened his ability to decipher abstract questions, particularly ones that require multiple formulas and boosted his confidence for his upcoming Cambridge examinations. And thanks to the ongoing support and encouragement he received from ACG Strathallan teachers Hugo Fourie and Jane Hollier, he feels ideally placed for mathematical success.

“Throughout my years at Strathallan, these teachers have helped me to understand and find ways to tackle maths problems, always providing more than one method.”
They’ve also instilled him with a lifelong passion for the subject, one that keeps him engaged, curious and inspired.

“Every maths problem is different. In the lower years, math was based on rote learning, but now there is a sense of using logic along with creation. You must go through your toolbox to find the right tools to solve the problem.”

Amanjot shares Harit’s sentiment and his love for all things mathematical. She enters every maths competition in which the school participates and has a multitude of accolades to her name. For example, she was one of several ACG Strathallan students who enjoyed outstanding success at the Great Kiwi Maths Competition earlier this year. Additionally, she has earned high distinction in ICAS and distinction grades in CAT, to name but a few competition highlights.

“I enjoy maths because of the feeling of accomplishment it gives me, especially when winning awards or placing in competitions,” says Amanjot. “The University of Otago Junior Mathematics Competition was a great way for me to find my strengths and weaknesses in maths and help me improve them for future competitions.”

And while the first stage of the competition wasn’t too difficult, Amanjot admits the second part was much more challenging as it required more developed problem-solving skills. 

“I honestly wasn’t expecting to get into the top 30. So I was very surprised when I found out but also relieved that all my hard work had paid off.”