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Mike Baxter, assists Area Coordinators in the North West

We are coming to the end of another successful round of Maths Feasts in the North West. There were approximately 165 teams of 660 eager Year 10 students taking part. Once initial hesitations were out of the way, there was a genuine buzz and, for many, this was their first experience of a maths competition outside of school – and they certainly rose to the challenge! The emphasis is deliberately on finding the fun in maths, although there is a competitive edge as teams battle to win each round.

For the first ‘course’, students worked on individual problems for several minutes before passing their sheets on to the next team member. This process was repeated four times, at which point they could collaborate on any problems. The second round was based on algorithms commonly used in decision maths. One pair studied Prim’s algorithm whilst the second pair studied Kruskal’s algorithm, and they then worked together to complete the comprehension which involved the use of both techniques. The third round was based on “Play Your Cards Right”, meaning teams had to decide whether the answer to each maths problem was higher or lower than the one before. 

Some examples of Maths Feast questions:

  • “In how many different ways can the letters AMSP be rearranged?”
  • “The area of a square is double its perimeter (numerically). What is the perimeter length?”

It was pleasing to meet many teachers and schools who had never entered the Feast before and who have unanimously positive feedback. If you think that your students might be interested in this type of competition, then please contact your local Area Coordinator who may be able to arrange for this content to be delivered to your own student before the summer, or keep an eye out for the Feast next year.

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