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The Mathematics A-lympiad is a mathematical team competition organized by the Freudenthal institute of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. The teams of 3 or 4 students aged 16-18, work on an assignment – an open-ended problem in which mathematical problem solving and higher-order thinking skills must be used to solve a real-life problem. The teams produce a written report.
The competition has two rounds. The qualifying preliminary round with about 1000 teams of students from all over the world, competing a day long at their own schools; and an international final in which selected teams compete during a weekend in the Netherlands.
The open nature of the task implies that the teams have to understand the problem, find their own strategy, use mathematical argumentation, justify the choices they have made and present the solution using appropriate mathematical language. A good distribution of work within the team and an effective strategy are very important.
Since our students are taking Mathematics A as a subject, we were invited to join the competition. A national committee consisting of one secondary school teacher and 3 professors from the Faculty of Science – Department of Mathematics, was formed. We invited other schools from Croatia whose students are also interested in mathematics to participate. In the last two years the student from V. gimnazija, Zagreb and 3. gimnazija Split joined the competition on the national level – the preliminary round. We hope that more schools will be interested in the future.
On 13th of November 2020 we participated in a preliminary round of a mathematical competition called The Mathematics Alympiad. This event is organized by the Freudenthal Institute of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. The competition has two rounds: the qualifying preliminary round with about 1000 teams of students competing a day long at their own schools; and an international final in which the teams that qualified compete during a whole weekend in a central place in the Netherlands on a different assignment.
On the national level, there were four teams, three from our school and one from V. gimnazija, Zagreb. One team consisted of four students, two from the 3rd grade and two from the 4th grade. The members of our team were Ana Angelov, Vito Anić, Lovro Cvitanović and Mateo Plavec.
We were presented with a creative mathematical problem which needed to be solved and incorporate with all our mathematical knowledge. The assignment consists of six introductory assignments and a final assignment. The task in the final assignment was to design a tournament in Ski jumping with new creative rules and twists. We have never had to come up with everything on our own before this big assignment and we had six introductory assignments. They gave us an insight on how the points are calculated. Collaboration between each member of our team was of great importance to solve the introductory tasks as well as the final task. One of our teammates was coding in C++ and one in Python. After the little assignments we started discussing about how we wanted our final assignment to look, which things from the introductory assignments we wanted to keep and which we wanted to change or if we want to think of something new. After a while we came to a solution that everyone was happy with.
In our tournament, approximately 9 countries would participate and every country could have between 3 and 5 members. On the first day there will be qualifications, countries that had more than 3 members would compete and inside of a team best 3 competitors stay. So now we have approximately 9 teams and every team has 3 members. In following 2 days of tournament, 4 rounds will be held. We decided that young competitors (18-22 years) will participate in all four rounds, people 23-27 years will participate in three rounds and older than 27 will participate in only two rounds. We mostly kept rules from introductory but we didn’t like that judges scores have more meaning than jump itself so we introduced a new parameter. An exponent 1.3 which increased the meaning of jumping scores over the judges scores. Finally, we had to write a paper in English where we present the solution to the problem. Everyone was writing the part that they had done earlier in introductory and we worked together to write the final assignment. We also made Excel table in which we wrote results to our imaginary tournament.
Although we were little sceptic at first because of the duration of the competition, we were pleasantly surprised. We actually had a fun time solving the problems and it was really interesting because we have never participated in an event similar to this one before.
Participating in such international and team competition was a great new experience. The problem was intriguing and we enjoyed working together and giving our best.
The final round this year will not be organized because of the coronavirus outbreak. The organizing committee decided to arrange a prize for the national winning team in each participating country.
You can find more details on https://www.uu.nl/en/education/mathematics-a-lympiad.