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Greater Victoria mathletes celebrate fielding their largest team ever

Local schools sent 43 students to compete at the provincials at UBC on April 13
Mount Douglas teacher Neal Johnson, who helps run the program in Greater Victoria for students to compete in the Math Challengers competitions. (Mark Page/News Staff)

Greater Victoria mathletes gathered at Mount Douglas Secondary on Friday (April 26) to celebrate having fielded the biggest slate of Vancouver Island competitors ever to make it to the provincial Math Challengers competitions, held on April 13 at UBC.

“It’s just really, really grown,” said Neal Johnson, Mount Douglas math, physics and science teacher. “The amount of teams on the Island that got involved this year was absolutely huge compared to what it’s been in the past.”

All 43 students came from the Capital Region.

Mount Douglas was a logical place to gather for cake and photos, with its focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses.

The Math Challengers competition brings together students from grades 8, 9 and 10 for both individual and group competitions.

Grade 11 and 12 students that want to remain involved can become coaches.

Coaches Raphael Lee and Ivy Guo, both 17, were at Mount Douglas and talked to Black Press about why they enjoy being part of the Math Challengers program.

“I really like taking part in all sorts of math contests,” Guo said. “It’s really fun how it’s so different from what you get on standardized tests.”

Lee added why he liked teaching others through this program.

“The best part about coaching is I get to teach things in ways that are engaging to kids,” he said.

The other coach, Dexin Zhou, couldn’t make it for cake because she was out taking a driving test.

Though the students from Vancouver Island did not win, it was by far the most students from the Island that have advanced to the provincial competitions.

The top showing was from 13-year-old Cameron Smith, who competed at the Grade 8 level and placed ninth.

Cameron said it was probability questions he was best at.

“For example: If a certain amount of people were sitting at a table, and the host has chairs assigned for them but they didn’t know them, what are the chances that they randomly got into the right chairs,” Smith said.

Smith said he hopes to eventually work in a job that involves medicine or science.

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About the Author: Mark Page

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