Model students win through to maths challenge final

Students from two Australian schools have proved jet lag is no barrier when it comes to their problem solving skills after winning through to the finals of an international maths challenge.

The International Mathematical Modeling Challenge (IMMC) invites teams of up to four secondary school students to visualise, understand and apply mathematics to develop an original mathematical model that solves a common problem.

This year's challenge set students the task of deciding where to hold a three-day international meeting. The meeting's participants were traveling in from all over the world and the chosen location needed to minimise jet lag and maximise their productivity.

IMMC is coordinated in Australia by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). There were eight national finalists and the two best solutions and reports were from John Monash Science School in Melbourne (awarded an Outstanding Achievement, the highest award category) and Perth Modern School (awarded a Meritorious Award, the second highest award category).

They now go on to the IMMC 2017 international round to be judged against about 50 team solutions and reports from schools around the world. The results will be announced in July.

Ross Turner, project director for the challenge at ACER, congratulated all the schools who took part this year. ‘With 82 Australian teams entered for IMMC 2017, we have seen a huge increase in interest in mathematical modelling this year,' he said. ‘Programs like IMMC are leading the way in helping students to see how mathematics can be applied to solve real-world problems. What is especially pleasing is that many schools have seen that IMMC is an opportunity to engage students from different year levels in a challenging mathematical activity.'

The John Monash Science School solution and report was submitted by Year 12 team members Dylan Sanusi-Goh, Alex Socha, YiJie Neo and Paromita Mitchell with their team advisor Luke Bohni, Head of Mathematics at the school.

Bohni says it's the first year the school has taken part in the IMMC. ‘We're also involved in the Singapore International Mathematics Challenge, which is a very similar competition where we send a team over for about a week and they compete on a problem with schools all around the world. When we saw [the IMMC] we jumped on it.

‘At John Monash, we're very big on the idea that maths … is an exploration of the world around you and you should actually be doing useful maths. Modelling is one of those ways where you can actually start to use maths and apply it in a really meaningful way.

‘[The IMMC] is over a few days and how much time students spend in those days working on it is kind of up to them. I know that this team spent a very large amount of time together. Part of it was over the weekend and they worked together almost all weekend on the project. They really got into it.

‘We actually entered four teams, but only two ended up submitting a report. The other team ended up being finalists, so we're proud of them too.'

Maths teacher Glen McClelland was team advisor for Perth Modern School. The solution and report were submitted by Year 11 students Indira Senthil Ajeetha, Yuqing (Sunny) Lu, Mehul Aggarwal and Kartikiya Bisht.

This is the second year the school has been involved and McClelland says he's been blown away by the efforts of the students and the complexity of the solutions they've provided.

‘Prior to opening the question we do the practice questions, and still they have to fit those sorts of questions in on top of their schoolwork, so it's quite a challenging event in terms of managing their timeline. Obviously the students don't know the question before they get it – when they opened up the question they were excited to have a go at it.

‘We offer students plenty of opportunities for competition participation, it's just one of the things teachers are keen to do – to encourage extra-curricular participation in competitions outside of school.

‘We've been judged in the top two in Australia, which is very exciting and pleasing for the students in particular – I'm very excited for them. Who knows, we'll see what happens with the international judging.'

The other six finalists in the IMMC 2017 national round were: Lyneham High School, Canberra (Year 9 students Enling Liao, Jessica Hill, Emi Callaway and Shannon Lanza, with team advisor Rajesh Prasad); Ballarat Grammar School (Year 10 students Thomas Burnett, Annabella Lewis, Amy Zuell and Luke Williams, with team advisor Natalie Draper); Box Hill High School, Melbourne (Year 11 students Miles Koumouris and Xander Britz, and Year 10 students Bernhard Andersson and Michael Zhao – recipients of an Honourable Mention – with team advisor Eugene Roizman); Box Hill High School, Melbourne (Year 10 students William Wang, Calvin Fairhurst, Lewis Douketis and Tse Hao Ong, with team advisor Eugene Roizman); John Monash Science School, Melbourne (Year 11 students Vladimir Mikho, Bors Deletic, Alex Wilce and Bo Kok, with team advisor Luke Bohni); and Mentone Girls' Grammar School, Melbourne (Year 9 students Amanda Hu, Kelly Jiang, Nikki Phan and Jade Rayner, with team advisor Maria Spaziani).

Visit for more information on the International Mathematical Modeling Challenge (IMMC) and to access the supporting resources.