On Friday 7 December over 100 A-level Mathematics students from schools throughout Northern Ireland took part in the fourth annual Schools Mathematics competition organised by Queen’s University Belfast. Teams representing nearly 30 schools battled their way through several rounds of tough questions set by mathematicians from the School of Mathematics and Physics. The final scores were extremely close, with St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon winning first place just ahead of Belfast High School in second and Methodist College Belfast in third. Queen’s University donated prizes for first, second and third place teams and there was an additional prize for the winning team, sponsored by Newry software company First Derivatives Plc.
The prizes were presented by Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry. Congratulating the students on their achievements, the minister said: “It is refreshing to be here today to witness so many young people enjoying the challenges set by the mathematicians at Queen’s University. The pupils have shown tremendous ability during the various rounds of the competition.
"Maths and STEM subjects have a fundamental role to play in many sectors of the economy. My Department works closely with employers in engineering, manufacturing, financial services and ICT, to name but a few, who repeatedly tell us how central mathematics is to their business. Sectors such as these will be key to the future growth of the Northern Ireland economy. They have the potential to provide quality career opportunities and so it is vital that our young people equip themselves with the right skills now, to be able to take advantage of these opportunities in the future.”
The organiser of the competition, Dr Daniel Dundas from the School of Mathematics and Physics, said, “The ability of students taking part in the competition every year always impresses us. This is a real credit to the students and their schools but it means it’s more of a challenge to set the questions!”
Elizabeth O’Hanlon from First Derivatives said, “It is incredible to see so many enthusiastic and passionate students embracing the QUB mathematics challenge. First Derivatives Plc are very proud to support this fantastic competition as it is students like these which we consider to be the driving force behind the growth of Northern Ireland’s Financial services.”