27th November 2018 — Four of Pangbourne’s finest mathematicians have produced a fantastic victory in the Regional heat of the UK Mathematics Trust (UKMT) Senior Maths Challenge.
The Senior Maths Challenge encourages reasoning, logic, deduction and the use of basic techniques to solve a variety of problems, and this year’s result is comfortably the best ever for Pangbourne. The College took a team of two Lower Sixth students, Norah Yang and Frank Zhang, and two Upper Sixth, Chulin Zhang and Tomas Tokovyi.
Last year, Pangbourne took another very strong team which produced an impressive 10th place finish, so there was plenty of optimism ahead of this Regional heat, held at Highdown School in Reading.
With 23 other local schools entered into the heat, the competition fielded strong local contenders including a mix of strong independent, grammar and state schools from all across the Reading area. The challenges faced by our pupils were a Group Round, Crossnumber and Shuttle.
The competition began with the Group Round in which teams were given ten challenging questions to solve in forty minutes. Pangbourne made a very impressive start scoring full marks. Next up was the Crossnumber where the team splits into two pairs, one to solve the ‘across’ clues and one to solve the ‘down’ clues, a challenge made harder by the limited communication allowed between the two pairs. This proved another very successful round for Pangbourne with only two marks dropped out of 62. We weren’t told how our score compared to other schools as we entered the final round so there was no room for complacency as we began the Shuttle round. We made an immaculate start but in the second half of this round made mistakes on three questions. Nevertheless it was sufficient to stay ahead of any rivals, eventually finishing two points clear of our nearest challengers.
Following the victory, Pangbourne have now qualified for the National Final of the Maths Challenge, which will take place at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London on 5 February 2019. Our four students will compete against the top 88 teams across the UK. They will face the same three rounds as the Regional heat, as well as a further two - the Relay and the Poster Competition. The Relay is a lively activity which splits teams into pairs and they take turns to solve problems against the clock. For the Poster Competition, teams are sent information prior to the event about a topic which they must research and investigate. At the Final, they create a poster incorporating their research and addressing questions given to them on the day.
Head of Mathematics at Pangbourne, Miss Katie Conroy, spoke about the success of the College’s team, saying: “We have a very strong group of A Level mathematicians and Chulin, Tomas, Norah and Frank should be really proud of their performance at this event. There are some fantastic schools in the competition, so for us to come away with first place is hugely impressive - we can’t wait for the National Final in February!”