Singapore International Maths Challenge 2014

Victor, Andy, Yin-Lee and Michaela won Medals of Commendation at the 4th Singapore International 
Mathematics Challenge (SIMC) at NUS High School of Math and Science in Singapore in May 2014. Principal Mr Peter Corkill and Maths teacher Mrs Kim Whitty accompanied the team. Special thanks also go to JMSS graduate Chris Whittle who returned to support the team with their training in the lead-up to the international event.

Singapore International Maths Challenge JMSS team 2014

Reflections from team member Victor Phan

The JMSS maths team left in the early morning of Sunday 25th May to compete in the Singapore International Mathematics Competition 2014. We stayed at the host school, NUS High, and had the privilege of showing the world what maths at JMSS has taught us. It was a huge opportunity for Yin-Lee, Michaela, Andy and I as well as Mr Corkill and Mrs Whitty to meet and greet many of the 60 international schools from 28 countries competing in the challenge.

The theme of the challenge this year was Land and Transport, so the first two days were spent travelling around the city visiting museums to appreciate and learn about the transport system in Singapore and its history. We immediately became close friends with a number of teams from Asia, Europe and even our fellow Australians from WA.

We worked together solving the five challenge problems, and over the course of two days, after numerous "It didn't work" and "I got it!" moments, we compiled a document containing all our solutions to the problems and sent them to the judges. The problems were open-ended problems relating to transport systems of Singapore; we had never seen or solved the particular types of problems before. Our rich mathematical experience in JMSS however reminded us of instances where we were given problems we had never seen before, so after immersing our minds into the maths, we came up with original solutions for every problem.

At the end of the challenge, the cafeteria that had once been filled with the loud noises of the excitement of 240 competing students became very quiet. The tension was high and everyone including us was nervous about the judging day, where the solutions are presented to a judging panel. 

We presented three times to three different judges, who were eminent and recognised professional mathematicians from all over the world, and coincidentally the first judge completed his doctorate in Melbourne! The second judge was less lenient however, but we didn't completely lose our self-confidence as the last judging was attended by Mr Corkill, Mrs Whitty and the MacRobertson principal herself!

The results came, and we were sitting in the same place where we had once received the problems in a yellow envelope. "John Monash Science School" was called out for the Commendation medal. We were all stunned and could not believe that this was real. We walked onto stage to receive our medals, and for a brief moment in time, the principals, teachers, students, judges and attendees from all over the world were applauding John Monash Science School. This defines the best moment we had in Singapore.

We hope that we will inspire future generations of JMSS students to carry the school name proudly to new places as we have.

I would finally like to thank Chris Whittle for taking the time to help us prepare, Mrs Whitty for organising the trip and checking our sanity, Mr Corkill for always believing in us (and buying that crab), the maths department at JMSS for giving us a unique education, and our beloved Student Liaison Officers in Singapore Melvin Cheong and Lei Ni for taking care of us and sharing their interests. As team leader, I could not imagine a better team than that of Yin-Lee, Michaela and Andy, who each made an essential effort to leading JMSS to success. Everyone I have mentioned including those who have supported us but are not listed are considered as part of the "JMSS Team". 

- Victor Phan

SIMC team JMSS 2014

SIMC is a biennial international mathematics event that provides opportunities to fuel students’ interest in mathematics and spur them to reach for greater heights. The event aims to bring together bright students from around the world to pit their skills in a rigorous competition where they will demonstrate their creativity and mathematical skills in a mathematical modelling challenge. Students will have the opportunities to interact in social and cultural activities. 

SIMC also aims to provide a platform for professional exchange of good practices in maths education across different countries through the Educator Programme. It provides opportunities for mathematics educators to engage in professional discourse and establish and develop ties with counterparts from around the world. 

The Challenge is open to students 14 – 18 years old or equivalent of Grades 8 to 12  (as of Year 2014) from invited schools. Each school can send in one team of 4 students with one school leader and accompanying teacher. 60 schools from 28 countries signed up for SIMC 2014 (49 international and 11 Singaporean schools).

Prof Imre Benett Leader from Trinity College, Cambridge University is the Chief Judge of SIMC. He leads a panel of distinguished judges comprising professionals from various universities, research institutes and scientific organizations.

For this year’s challenge, students needed basic knowledge of geometry, trigonometry, calculus, probability theory and graph theory. During the challenge, participants may use available technology such as computers, software packages and Internet. This is done to the best of their knowledge and without external guidance. Working as a team, participants are given 2 days to work out the problem before making an oral presentation to the judges.