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Competition Success for our Middle School Mathematicians
By Elizabeth Jewitt, Middle School Mathematics Coordinator

This has been a busy year for Middle School Mathematics. We kicked off the year in September with our first three-day event, titled ‘Inspiring Mathematical Thinking’. The event hopefully did just that as all Middle School students sat in the theatre awestruck by the stunning presentations of Katie Steckles of ‘Think Maths UK’. Grade 8 students also had the privilege of attending lectures by Kaloyan Slavov of the ETH Mathematics Youth Academy. Also in September, the new Maths Club was launched with 15 members. This grew to 20 students this year, all eager to number crunch and problem solve after school. The year has seen students analysing road systems, designing a 3-dimensional model of the Engadine, and of course solving many problems in training for our contests.

Competitions and contests are one other component of our diverse and comprehensive programme. We operate with a totally inclusive policy for entry to the contests, enthusiasm being the only prerequisite.  We select only for the six-student ISMTF competition team. All our Middle School students are welcome to join the problem-solving fun of the Math Olympiads Contest, Känguru Maths and the Maths Club. The Middle School mathematics year has hopefully been a fulfilling and exciting experience for all, whether they have been competition hungry or not! Fantastic class projects, STEM activities, integrating mathematics, science and design, and mathematics rooted programmes in Wengen have featured throughout the year. A great year with much to reflect on and celebrate.

Turning again to our competitive mathematics programme, preparations for the first of these competitions, the Math Olympiads Contest, began with training in October. The contest runs as an exceptionally challenging monthly problem-solving paper for five months, from November to March. 20'000 of the most able mathematics loving students from all over the world take part. Congratulations to all 70 ISZL students involved. We can be very proud of them all for taking on this challenge. We hope to see many of the grade 6 and 7 students returning for more problem-solving fun next year. ISZL Middle School has been entering this contest for the last five years with excellent results. This year we are very proud to have many students in the top 20%, with special mention going to David F finishing in the top 10% and Conor C finishing in the top 2% with an amazing 24/25 correct solutions.

In addition and for the first time this year, ISZL Middle and High School students were invited to enter the Känguru Mathematics Contest. On March 21st 41 Middle School students remained after school to sit a 90-minute problem-solving paper before recovering with Mr Stuchly's pizza and drinks. It turned out to be a fun event - the atmosphere was buzzing! We were delighted that so many of our students wanted to take part and hope to see many more next year.

Students taking part in the Kängaru mathematics contest

To give an idea of the growing popularity of this contest, across the world approximately 911’000 students from some 11’250 schools took part in 2018. This represents huge growth from the humble beginnings of 3 schools and 184 students back in 1995. ISZL results were impressive. Ten students entered the grade 5-6 category. Julia F topped the results table with a result in the top 3%, Mikhail G followed closely with a result in the top 4%. 8 of the 10 were in the top 30% and all within the top 50%. Thirty-one entered the grade 7-8 category. Our top results were outstanding - Connor C and Max A shared 12th place out of the 8’748 contestants across Switzerland. Aayush G and David F scored within the top 2.5%, 6 students scored within the top 4%, 8 within the top 10%, 13 in the top 20% and 25 within the top 50%. These results are amazing, and even more so when we note that the majority of students entering the contest, across the country and globally, are amongst the top mathematics students. Big congratulations to our 41!

Students taking part in the Kängaru mathematics contest

Our third and final contest of the year was the 2019 ISMTF Competition, this year held in Marbella. After a careful selection process at ISZL we ended up (for the first time) with an all-boys team! Girls how did this happen..?! This annual contest brings together some of the very strongest young mathematicians from all over Europe and beyond. This year 61 teams, all highly trained and eager to problem solve, battled their way through 4 hours of papers on Saturday morning. An amazing performance from all our six boys throughout the months of training and the competition itself - Connor C, David F and Aayush G came in at an impressive 6th place out of the 61 competing teams. Congratulations to our six very talented young mathematicians. It was a great pleasure and honour to work with them.

Our ISMTF team in action during the competition

The boys enjoying their time in Marbella

Maths Club resumes in August. Maths Olympiad and Känguru Contest training will form a part of the activities. All with enthusiasm and passion for maths are most welcome to join.

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