30 November 2015

Image of Students Top UK Mathematical Challenges

A Level Mathematics students, at The Sixth Form College are excelling in national Mathematical challenges and competitions with eight students recently completing the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust (UKMT) Senior Challenge within the top 60% or higher. The College is also, currently, joint-top of the leader board for the National Cipher Challenge thanks to our student team.

The UKMT Senior Challenge is aimed at 16-19 years olds studying Maths and involves answering 25 multiple choice questions in 90 minutes under exam conditions, with all papers being marked by an optical mark reader. The top 60% of students nationally gain Gold, Silver and Bronze certificates.

Sydney Isaacs who studies A Level Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry at the College has been awarded a Gold certificate after her Senior Challenge results placed her in the top 10% nationally, qualifying Sydney for the next round – The Senior Kangaroo. Approximately 2000 students across the whole of England and Wales are invited to participate in the next round, where Sydney will have to complete an hour long paper with certificates only being awarded to the top 25% of those taking part.

Fellow Maths students, William Davies and Emily Wagstaff, received silver certificates in the UKMT Senior challenge placing them in the top 30% nationally and students, Sophie Hatherly, Kate Holmes, Tony Robinson, Ellie Adams and Milly Barrett are all in the top 60%, after receiving a Bronze level certificate.

The students hope that the challenge will strengthen their Mathematical skills and their UCAS applications as the majority hope to study either a Medical, Teaching or Mathematical related degree at University.

Assistant Head of Maths at the College, Steve Yates, also invited all first and second year A Level Mathematics students to take part in the National Cipher Challenge. The Cipher Challenge is set by the University of Southampton and involves participants having to crack a weekly code using increasingly high-level mathematical skills to discover the encrypted message. Participants have a set amount of time to discover the message in order to receive points and place them higher on the leader board.

Steve invited the students to take part as he believes the Competition has a number of benefits for students studying Mathematics and Computer Science, stating, “The National Cipher Challenge is an absorbing glimpse into the world of national, commercial and internet security, using increasingly high-level mathematics, and set in a range of historical and political scenarios that may inspire students to take it further, either as an undergraduate module at university, or an MSc or PhD after a Maths or Computing degree. Students can also track their progress against a nation of entrants and it is an interesting addition to a personal statement, especially for those applying for Maths or Maths-related courses or employment.”

Students Breandán Fawcett and Thomas Lee are representing the College in the challenge, naming their team the “BSFC Wizards” and are doing a fantastic job each week, currently being joint-top of the leader board. Both Breandán and Thomas study Mathematics and Computer Science at the College and find the Cipher Challenge is useful experience for both subjects.

Breandán, who is currently Head Student at the College, commented, “The Cipher Challenge has been particularly useful practice for work related to Computer Science as well as giving us the opportunity to enhance our Mathematical skills. Myself and Thomas have to work together in order to crack the code as quickly as possible so it’s great for developing team work skills too – we’re really enjoying it.”

Breandán and Thomas also run a weekly class for their fellow students to help them learn how to work with HTML code as part of the Enrichment programme at College.

Maths UKMT & Cipher Challenge

Tags: A Level Computing Competition Maths Enrichment Career Pathways Challenge Learning Computer Science Mathematics UKMT National Cipher Challenge

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