On Saturday, 15 October, at the University of Limerick, the search for Ireland’s best female mathematical problem-solvers will start. All girls who currently attend a second level school in Ireland are eligible.
In recent months, the lack of mathematical problem-solving skills among Irish second level school students has been in the focus of the media. What is less well-known is that for nearly 25 years, five universities in Ireland have been running successful Mathematical Enrichment Programmes for second level students. Many of those who have participated in these programmes are now lecturers or PhD students of mathematics in Ireland or abroad. A strong motivation for those who actively participate in the Enrichment Programmes is the possibility of competing in Mathematical Olympiads.
In order to increase the level of interest in mathematical problem solving among female students, the inaugural European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad (EGMO) will take place in Cambridge, England from 10 April until 16 April, 2012. Ireland will be represented there by a team of up to four second level mathematicians. But all participants of the Mathematical Enrichment Programmes, not only the most successful, will benefit from the training offered between October and December and improve their problem solving skills.
The training will be facilitated by a series of online lessons and challenges coordinated by mathematicians from NUI Galway, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, University of Limerick, UCD, UCC, and NUI Maynooth. Mathematical enrichment courses at these centres will follow later in the academic year, and Ireland’s first EGMO team will be selected early in 2012. It is likely that the successful students will have already completed their Junior Certificate.
Dr Rachel Quinlan from NUI Galway, who will lead the Irish team to the EGMO, said: “Female students have historically been underrepresented at Mathematical Olympiads internationally. Female mathematical talent seems to be an underused resource, and an initiative aiming at mobilising this talent is a brilliant idea. Often, girls who participate in Mathematical Olympiads do this at the highest level. For example, the German student Lisa Sauermann was the only competitor at this year’s International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) to achieve a perfect score. She now holds the leading position in the IMO Hall of Fame with 4 Gold and one Silver medal, outperforming all other participants of 52 years of IMO.”
Young mathematicians of both sexes are invited to participate in the programme of problem solving offered through the Enrichment Programmes at five universities in Ireland. The students in these programmes will be included in the search for Ireland’s team for the 2012 International Mathematical Olympiad which will take place in Argentina in July.
Those who are interested in this mathematical problem-solving day need to register online at www.irmo.ie/egmo.html by Tuesday, 11 October. More detailed information about the training and EGMO will be provided during the problem-solving day in Limerick from 11am until 3.30pm.