This academic year, four 7-11 students took part in the regional finals of the UKMT Team Maths Challenge held at the Maths Institute, where they competed against 27 other teams from around the South of England in a gruelling set of four rounds.
The day began with a short walk from school in the rain to the venue (where we encountered a picket line of university staff, who very kindly wished us luck). Once inside, we settled ourselves with some drinks and snacks and prepared to face the opposition. Here’s what happened in the words of the students themselves.
Joseph A, Year 9
“After we’d finished the practice questions (mainly successfully), we prepared ourselves for the group round. We had 10 questions over the course of 45 minutes. We spent our time with a few simple questions involving simultaneous equations and fractions. We were doing well until we spotted how much time we had left. We had to hurry on through the difficult few questions we had left and finally finished with seconds to spare! They told us our score before we started the crossnumber.”
Emmie B, Year 8
“Think of a crossword, except with numbers, each intertwined. so, you can’t figure out the question without working out another, and another one! To add more tension, you are split into two teams with half of the clues each. Concentration and teamwork are key. You can only speak to the other pair to ask them to do certain questions:
“Can you do 17 across?” “I can’t do that unless you do 5 down.” “I need 8 across for that.” “Only if you do 7 down.”
This would go on for a while and we would lose track of why we were doing 7 down. This was fun and creative but was also slightly irritating. I loved the way you could help each other, as each clue melds together very satisfyingly.”
Phoebe F, Year 9
“The third round was the shuttle round, where we split our team in half. There were four shuttles, each with four questions. Two of us had to work out the first one and write our answer on a sheet without communicating with the other two people. Then they would use that answer in their questions and pass it back to us, and so on. It was really tricky because if we got the first one wrong, it meant all of the other answers were wrong too, so we had to be really careful.”
Scotty J, Year 8
“For the fourth round, we split the team in two again, and we were in different parts of the room. We had to collect a question, answer it and then run across the room to get our answer checked. If we were right, we got other questions to pass on to the other pair, just like in a relay race. As we ran, our hearts pounded, as we tried to get through lots of questions in the available time.”
At the end of the day, we gathered with all of the other teams in the main lecture theatre to hear the results. Our team was very happy with our placing of 14th out of 28th overall, and it was fantastic for the members to get a small insight into what studying mathematics at university might be like.