Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Vibrant Vienna

Taking a turn on the 'Wiener Riesenrad', savouring a segment of sachertort and experiencing Acts I and II of Verdi's Aida...what are they doing on the pinkmathematics blog?  Last weekend, six valiant Y9 students and two coaches took part in the annual ISMTF Mathematics Tournament in Vienna, Austria, being hosted this year by the American International School of Vienna.

The competition consists of two different tournaments.  The main one where teams of three from each school solve short, long and multiple choice mathematical problems in a series of rounds from 5 to 15 minutes long.  The second part of the competition, 'The Sunday Chase,' takes place on the following day.  Here the students from individual schools are mixed up to form teams of three from different schools and 'chase' round the school to try and solve as many questions as they can in a set time.  The students always have the opportunity to discuss their answers with each other, but aren't allowed outside help or calculators. 

Mr Bowles, head coach, took every opportunity to keep mathematical thinking finely tuned, from solving problems in the plane en route to quick warm-ups in the bus on the way to the school each morning.

In between solving many varied mathematical problems that tested their considerable calculating, logical, lateral and reasoning skills to the limit, the group from IST visited the lovely city of Vienna.  Under the guidance of the supremely organised and well-informed Mr Bowles and with the help of the seemingly bottomless stock of sweeties provided by one of the students, Antonia, they visited the major sights and experienced at first hand the world-famous Vienna State opera, the famous 64m high ferris wheel at Prater park, a five-star 'heiße Schokolade und sachertorte' at the 'Café Sacher' and a tour of the most famous sights.  In addition, they met many other students from all over Europe and the Middle East, coming together with a single aim - to do maths, but also relaxing with each other as they viewed a fascinating part of Europe.
Team IST with students from Sir James Henderson School, Milan outside the Schônbrunn Palace

Another highlight of the weekend was the immensely impressive 'Technisches Museum', a trip sponsored by the AIS.  Here amongst the incredibly varied exhibits, they found many familiar and not so familiar machines and gadgets people use from day to day and throughout history.  Mr Bowles once again tested their powers of observation and logic by playing 'guess the function of the machine' and most forged a new skill - one of presenting the Austrian news complete with auto-cue in German in a lifelike mock up of a studio.

This year's winning team, from Luxembourg shall be hosting next year's tournament.  For the Y9 students, they have their sights set on the Junior Challenge in a couple of year's time when they are in Y11.  Whether they take part or not, it is certain that their weekend in Vienna has given them masses of mathematical involvement and opportunities.  

Well done to everyone involved!

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