If one school from Malmesbury, one from Knysna and two from Paarl all travel to UCT by bus at the same time, how many pigeons will be scuttling around the food court?
Fortunately, this writer is not compiling the questions for the 2017 UCT Mathematics Competition, which will bring UCT’s Upper Campus to life (and many scavenging birds to the food court) during the dusk hours of 20 April.
That will be left to maths boffins from UCT and schools in the Western Cape, with teachers and university academics uniting to conspire against some of the sharpest young minds in the province. Thought-provoking and sometimes quirky problems will delight and baffle the record 8 700 high-school mathematicians. They will be representing 174 schools from across the province, 15 of which hail from Khayelitsha and are part of the UCT 100UP programme.
“The question papers are not like predictable school exams,” says Emeritus Professor John Webb, who has run the annual competition for more than two decades. Few participants score 100%.
Papers are computer-marked and the top pupils will be invited to take part in a second round, the UCT Invitational Mathematics Challenge, on 13 May. For the cream of the crop there is a final round, the UCT Mathematics Olympiad, on 20 May. Prizes, certificates and trophies will be awarded at an event in the Baxter Concert Hall on 8 June.
Now, how to fit all the prodigies, their vehicles and supporters on upper campus while ensuring traffic flows almost normally?
That’s a puzzle best left to UCT’s traffic department.
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