Polyominoes and practical problems: QE competes in the Team Maths Challenge National Final

Polyominoes and practical problems: QE competes in the Team Maths Challenge National Final

Having finished as runners-up in the regional heat of the Team Maths Challenge, a QE team competed in the national final.

Captain Guy Flint, of Year 9, and teammates Athiyan Chandramohan, of Year 8, Anshul Sajip, of Year 9, and Thilakshan Thayalan, of Year 8, finished 17th out of the 88 teams in the national final at the Royal Horticultural Halls (Lindley Hall), scoring 181 points out of a possible 228.

Assistant Head of Mathematics Wendy Fung said: “1,757 teams entered this year’s Team Maths Challenge, so to be invited to the national final is a great achievement in itself.”

The event consisted of five rounds.  One round – a poster round – had a theme of polyominoes, which are a shape made by connecting a number of equal squares (an extension of dominoes, which comprise only two squares). The activity rounds were: the group circus, which involved working on practical Mathematics problems; a relay race, which required a combination of quickness across the room and speed at solving problems; a crossnumber (similar to a crossword, but involving numbers) and a shuttle, which was a series of mini-relays against the clock. 

Special guest Simon Singh, author of The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets gave a short speech about the connections between Mathematics and comedy-writing.  All the skills learned in Mathematics train people in how to think and these are also the necessary skills to write good comedy sketches, he said, adding that this is why so many of the writers of The Simpsons have mathematical backgrounds.

  • An example of a question faced by the boys: given a 5 x 4 grid and 14 counters, place the counters so that every row and every column has an even number of counters in it.