More than A needed in maths

23 February 2004

The esteemed UCT Mathematics Competition celebrates its 25th birthday this year and plans are afoot to hold this year's event on April 21, on campus. According to competition co-ordinator Professor John Webb (mathematics and applied mathematics department), a record entry of over 6 000 of the province's top maths boffins is expected.

Speaking to parents and teachers recently, Webb said: "With the big jump in the number of higher grades A symbols being awarded in the Senior Certificate maths exams in recent years, top achievers in mathematics need more than just an A to demonstrate their mathematical ability. High achievements in mathematical competitions and Olympiads are becoming increasingly important in tough competition for university admission and bursaries."

For these candidates, UCT offers comprehensive maths enrichment programmes. Top performers from the UCT Mathematics Competition will be invited to the Canadian Invitational Mathematics Challenge in May. Teams will be trained to represent Western Province in the Inter-Provincial Mathematical Olympiad in September. High achievers also have a chance of making one of the South African teams for the International and Pan African Mathematics Olympiads. (The former will be held in Greece in July and the latter in Tunisia in August.)

There are Saturday afternoon programmes of informal maths activities in March and August (including more off-beat activities like boomerang throwing and problem-solving races), a correspondence course in problem-solving for maths Olympiad enthusiasts, weekly master classes and maths camps for gifted students.

In addition, individual invitations are issued for the UCT Mathematical Circle, which meets every Wednesday afternoon in the department to discuss topics outside the school curriculum.

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