Matchless mathematicians

MICHELE ONG
Last updated 05:00 28/03/2014
Devon Intermediate School pupils
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

EASY AS 1,2,3: Devon Intermediate School’s year 7 and 8 pupils took first place in a nationwide maths competition, pipping Rotorua Intermediate for the major prize.

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Complex numerical questions are easy for a group of Devon Intermediate School students who won first place in a nationwide maths competition.

Devon's class of 33 11 and 12-year-olds knocked off Rotorua Intermediate for top spot at the Mangahigh New Zealand Maths Challenge and also finished seventh in the competition's global rankings.

The competition attracted 50 schools around the country, with students competing against other schools for the "ultimate maths glory".

Mangahigh is an online site which combines maths with games like Jetstream Riders, where students use their addition and subtraction skills to win a hot air balloon race, to Algebra Meltdown, challenging students with linear equations.

Devon's victory earned them $1000 worth of Mangahigh vouchers, $550 to spend on a celebratory treat and medals for its top students.

Teacher Alana Glentworth said at one point it looked as if Rotorua would win the competition. But her students were "very capable mathematicians" and wrangled back their rightful spot.

In the end, Rotorua Intermediate was second, Maidstone Intermediate, in Upper Hutt, came third, Spotswood College fourth and Pahiatua School, in Manawatu, fifth.

Miss Glentworth said the win was especially exciting as it was their first time entering the competition.

Pupil Leo Bennett, 12, ranked first in his class and told the Daily News that he found the maths competition "really cool".

"Some of it was more challenging, things like graphs and stuff involving cuboids," he said. But he enjoyed maths as it was "different to everything else".

Other subjects required using letters but in maths there were only numbers to deal with, Leo said.

Classmate Isabel Simpson, also 12, came fourth in class and said copious amounts of time spent at the school's computer room spurred her to do well. "I didn't want to lose so I took the game very seriously," she said.

Sam Skinner, 11, took the Daily News through Mangahigh's challenge, which involved counting means, medians and various maths problems.

Sam said it was "quite fun". "I really like maths - it's logical, challenging and you have to do lots of thinking."

Mangahigh schools director Deborah Palmer said what made Devon's results "even more impressive" was it only had 33 students competing in comparison to the other schools with 200.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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