"Maths makes the world go round"

15 June 2012 | Story by Newsroom

The greatest unsolved puzzle in mathematics, said deputy-vice chancellor Professor Danie Visser, is how to determine who is good at mathematics and who is not. But the high school learners at the UCT Mathematics Competition Prize-Giving on 7 June, where Visser was speaking, could be fairly confident about which side of that fence they find themselves.

UCT Mathematics Competition Prize-Giving on 7 June UCT Mathematics Competition Prize-Giving on 7 June
Tri-umph: Sanele Mangena (second from left) of Manyano High School received the Moolla Trophy from
the Moolla brothers Haroon, Saadiq and Ashraf,
formerly of Rondebosch Boys' High.
Gold standard: Among those fêted were the learners who finished top in their respective grades, here with representatives from the competition's generous sponsors - Albert Geldenhuys (Aurecon), Sbusiso Kumalo (Capitec Bank), Westerford's Robert Spencer (grade 12 and overall winner) and Sanjiv Ranchod (grade 8), Merrick James (Casio), Robin Visser (grade 10, St George's Grammar School), UCT's Prof Danie Visser, Guy Paterson-Jones (grade 11) and Soo-Min Lee (grade 9), both of Bishops - Diocesan College, and Danielle Kansley (Oxford University Press).

The crème de la crème of the record 7,251 participants that took part in the competition at UCT in April were fêted and rewarded with prizes from competition sponsors Aurecon, Capitec Bank, Casio and Oxford University Press.

Professor John Webb, of the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, lauded the learners' achievements, and added the competition was about more than simply handing out prizes.

"Tonight we are celebrating winners, but our main aim is to promote interest in mathematics," said Webb.

Competitors had entered either in pairs or individually, and were awarded accordingly. Gold Awards and Casio watches and calculators were awarded to the top ten learners from each grade, as well as the top three pairs from each grade.

The top individual performers were Sanjiv Ranchod of Westerford (grade 8), Soo-Min Lee of Bishops (grade 9), Robin Visser of St George's Grammar School (grade 10), Guy Paterson-Jones of Bishops (grade 11) of Bishops, and Robert Spencer of Westerford (grade 12).

The winning pairs were as follows: Jonathan Botha and Woo Duk Jin of Fairmont High School topped the grade 8 score-sheet; Christian Cotchobos and Sam Jeffery of Bishops placed first in grade 9; Ahmad Dutton and Liam Byren of Rondebosch Boys' High School won the grade 10 group; Jaydon Farao and Ziyaad Adam of Bishops took top honours in grade 11; finally, Claude Piessou and Nimombe Namtchougli of Abbots College Claremont finished tops in grade 12.

A train of other awards for individual excellence were also on offer. School prizes donated by Oxford University Press were awarded to the best individual performance in a school that had not won a Gold Award. All prizewinners received R100 vouchers from Capitec Bank.

A number of trophies were also awarded. The Diane Tucker trophy, presented in memory of the late teacher from Rustenburg Girls' High School to the best-performing female competitor, went to Lauren Denny, a grade 11 learner from Rustenburg. Denny was the first learner from the school to win the trophy.

There was a new piece of silverware on offer, namely the Moolla Trophy. The trophy was sponsored by the family who between 2003 and 2011 had at least one of three sons - Ashraf, Haroon and Saadiq, then at Rondebosch Boys' High - feature among the Gold Awards.

This trophy is earmarked for a school that, participating in the competition for the first time, registered a particularly noteworthy performance, and went to Manyano High School. Manyano was one of the 12 Khayelitsha schools that had participated in the competition for the first time this year. (Aurecon provided funding for transport for these schools.)

Then the UCT Trophy, awarded by the university to the best-performing school that had participated in the competition no more than three times, went to Claremont High School.

Finally, the big one: the Mona Leeuwenburg Trophy, named after one of the event's founders and awarded to the best-performing school overall, was awarded to Bishops. The trophy has never been won by a school other than Bishops, Rondebosch Boys' High or Westerford.

Visser was at pains to stress the importance of the talented learners maximising their considerable potential.

"Maths makes the world go round," he said. "Cherish your talent. Make the most of it, for in the modern world knowledge is the most important commodity."

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