Mathematics on the brain

19 April 2005

Early last week, about 6 500 jumpy learners, including (above) Diazville High's Rachelene van Rooyen (far left) and teammate Kechia Smeda, braved the 29th annual UCT Mathematics Competition, said to be the biggest maths competition in the world to take place at the same time and in one place. The learners represented some 130 schools in the Western Cape, travelling long hours from as far as Worcester, Paarl, Vredenburg and Beaufort West. On the evening, the learners wrote papers appropriate to their grades in 50 venues across the UCT campus. Students competed either as individuals, or in teams of two, tackling problems together. Winners will be presented with certificates and prizes at a ceremony on May 25, when trophies will also be presented to the top schools. In addition to these sponsored spoils, students can also land spots in regional and national squads that vie for honours in some major local and international competitions. Sadly, the recent downpour and a landslide meant the school from Bredasdorp was unable to make it to the UCT competition last week. That didn't stop them from taking part, though. "They were so disappointed that [organiser] Professor John Webb decided, as it is not often that you have an area declared a disaster area, that he would fax the papers through to the school," reports Mary Hilton, communication manager for the science faculty. Bredasdorp couriered the completed papers back the next day.

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