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Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians

Director: Dr Kevin McAvaney

There are three independent stages in the Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians (MCYA) - the Challenge Stage, the Enrichment Stage and the Australian Intermediate Mathematics Olympiad (AIMO).

The MCYA Program targets the top 20 per cent of primary students in Years 3 to 6 and secondary students in Years 7 to 10. Whereas it is directed at all students in this category it may be particularly useful in schools where teachers may be working in isolation and have a handful of talented students spread out over a number of classes.

The Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians provides materials so that these teachers may help talented students reach their potential. Teachers in larger schools also find the materials valuable, allowing them to better assist the students in their care.

This program is supported by the Australian Government Department of Education, through the Mathematics and Science Participation Program.

The aims of the Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians include:

  • Encouraging and fostering:
    • a greater interest in and awareness of the power of mathematics;
    • a desire to succeed in solving interesting mathematical problems; and
    • the discovery of the joy of solving problems in mathematics.
  • Identifying talented young Australians, recognising their achievements nationally and providing support that will enable them to reach their own levels of excellence.
  • Providing teachers with:
    • interesting and accessible problems and solutions as well as detailed and motivating teaching discussion and extension materials; and
    • comprehensive Australia-wide statistics of students' achievements in the Challenge.
Challenge Stage

The Challenge Stage (held during a consecutive 3-week period ideally including April, but dates for current year may be found here comprises four problems for those in the primary schools and six problems for the secondary school versions. Problems can be discussed in groups of two or three registered students before individual submission of solutions. There are separate problem sets for Middle Primary (Year 3-4), Upper Primary (Year 5-6), Junior (Year 7-8) and Intermediate (Year 9-10) students.

The problems for the Challenge stage are designed by the Challenge Problems Committee, a voluntary committee of Australian teachers and academics.

Enrichment Stage

The Enrichment Stage is a six-month enrichment program which commences in April. It comprises (2004) six parallel series of comprehensive student and teacher support notes. Each student participates in one series. These programs are designed for students in upper primary and lower to middle secondary (Years 5 to 10).

The materials for all series are designed to be a systematic structured course over the duration of the program, and which students are intended to keep for on-going reference. (The support of the Australian Government enables this program to be offered to Australian students at an entry fee lower than the cost of buying the notes independently.) This enables schools to time-table the program to fit their school year.

The Enrichment Stage is independent of the earlier Challenge Stage, however they have the common feature of providing challenging mathematics problems for students, as well as accessible support materials for teachers and students are encouraged to participate in the Challenge Stage soon.

The Newton Enrichment Series

This Series comprisies a number of introductory topics in geometry, counting and numbers. It is suitable for students in Years 5 and 6.

The Dirichlet Enrichment Series

This Series contains mathematics concerned with tessellations, patterns, arithmetic in other bases and recurring decimals. It is suitable for students in years 6 or 7.

The Euler Enrichment Series

This Series comprises elementary number theory, geometry, pigeonhole principle, elementary counting techniques and miscellaneous challenge problems, mainly for Year 8 and outstanding Year 7 students.

The Gauss Enrichment Series

This Series comprises elementary geometry, similarity, Pythagoras' Theorem, elementary number theory, counting techniques and miscellaneous challenge problems, mainly for Year 9 students and those who have already done the Euler Series.

The Noether Enrichment Series

This Series consists of material on problem solving, algebra and number theory. It is designed for students in the top 5 to 10 per cent of Year 9 who have taken the Gauss series in another year, and are not yet ready for the Polya series.

The Polya Enrichment Series

This Series consists of notes on deductive reasoning (Euclidean geometry) and algebra. It was designed specifically for the top 5 per cent of Year 10 students and outstanding students in lower years. Schools have found that this series gives a sound base for students who wish to specialise in Years 11 and 12 mathematics.

The Australian Intermediate Mathematics Olympiad (AIMO)

This four-hour examination is an open event particularly appropriate for students who have completed the Noether Enrichment Series, but also for students who have acquired knowledge of Olympiad problem solving generally. It is usually conducted about the second week of August.

It has questions based on work in the Challenge Stage and based on work in the Noether Enrichment Series. It is a fitting culmination to the Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians, and is, in effect the main national Olympiad for students of Year 10 and below.

Results of the AIMO are taken into account when deciding who will be invited to attend the School of Excellence.

For information on entering any part of the Challenge, press here.