Where am I?
What’s my thing?
Maths, piano, violin, French horn
For Rachel Wong, mathematics is the perfect marriage of creativity and logic.
“When you solve a problem, everything is logical and you just follow a series of steps. The difficulty is actually coming up with those steps in the first place and that’s where the creativity comes in,” says Rachel, who has just completed year 12 in Sydney.
“Sometimes the steps combine to make a really nice kind of flow and get a really good result at the end.”
Rachel’s interest in maths was sparked in primary school thanks to the Murderous Maths book series by author Kjartan Poskitt. The books, which have been translated into 25 languages, introduce young readers to basic concepts such as probability, algebra and shapes.
In year nine, Rachel began participating in a training camp run by the Australian Mathematics Trust, and has represented Australia at the international Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) and the Asian Pacific Mathematics Olympiad.
The weekly training sessions for the 2013 IMO team involved participants gathering with a mentor to test their knowledge, share and discuss each person’s answers, and, in particular, any especially creative approaches. For Rachel, who also loves music and plays piano, violin and French horn, the training sessions added to the full educational plate of a very motivated year 12 student.
“I guess the year was tough, because we had training for the IMO and we had mentoring sessions, and the IMO was just before our trial exams. So we had to use our time properly.”
But the training paid off for Rachel, who won a bronze medal at the 2013 IMO held in Santa Marta, Colombia. With year 12 now behind her, Rachel hopes to secure a place in an advanced mathematics degree course and to focus on her two great loves.
“I’m really looking forward to uni and getting to do maths most of the time, and perhaps also playing in an orchestra.”
From Australia’s Future published by the Office of the Chief Scientist
Australia’s future is published by the Office of the Chief Scientist with support from the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA), Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT), Australian Mathematics Trust (AMT), Australian Science Innovations (ASI), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), National Mathematics Summer School (NMSS) and National Youth Science Forum (NYSF).
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