Mathematician achieves first place in National Mathematics Talent Quest

Posted on November 1, 2016

Talented young mathematics student Finn McDonald from Arden Anglican School flew to Melbourne on 20th October, 2016 to receive first prize in the National Mathematics Talent Quest in the Year 1 category. 

This followed on from his success at a State level in the NSW Investigating with Mathematics Competition, where his first place entry was then forwarded onto the national finals.  Finn’s project looked at the distribution and sales of the popular Andy Griffiths novel 65 Storey Treehouse. 

The NSW Mathematical Association coordinates the NSW Investigating with Mathematics Competition.  Students can enter either as an individual or group and this is actively encouraged at Arden by Dr Gabrielle Oslington, Arden’s Gifted and Talented Coordinator.  Dr Oslington explained:  “We encourage participation in this competition because research projects support students in exploring topics of interest and connect mathematics with real world decisions and experiences.”  Discussing what he learned from the experience, an excited Finn said:  “Maths is everywhere. I really liked using maths to investigate how popular my favourite book is.”

In addition to Finn being awarded first place, two other Arden entries also achieved first place in the NSW Investigating with Mathematics Competition, an impressive achievement.  The other two successful entries were Year 6 students Brandon Lam, Chloe Lam and Oliver Barry who researched mobile phone plans, and Year 3 student Caden Wu who studied the height of NBA players.  

Another highlight in Finn’s amazing week was when he received a handwritten note from Andy Griffiths, who had responded to Finn’s letter where he had shared his competition success with Andy.  Andy Griffiths was very encouraging and wrote “Thank you so much for your wonderful maths investigation project.  It really is an amazing piece of work and I’m so thrilled our book allowed you to combine your love of maths and reading.”

Finn’s recent achievements caps a very exciting week for him as he has also just been awarded a medal for his perfect score in the Year 2 ICAS Mathematics Competition run by the University of NSW.  Finn was one of only 514 students from Australia and 100 students from New Zealand and the Pacific Region awarded medals for their outstanding achievement out of over 980,000 entries. This is even more remarkable, given that Finn, who turned seven recently, is only in Year 1 and is grade accelerated for Mathematics. Described by Dr Oslington as a “humble and hardworking student” Finn is a young mathematics student to keep an eye on!