A SMCS First: Math Club Competes in International Tournament

Eighteen students distinguished themselves in a first for St. Michael’s College School (SMCS), while also becoming the first Canadian school to compete in an international math tournament.

“Mathematics Without Borders is an organization that supports enrichment in mathematics internationally for students from Grade 1 to Grade 12,” says Dr. Peter Zavodny ’97. “The SMCS Math Club signed up to participate in the competition this year for the first time.”

The recent Mathematics Without Borders Tournament featured more than 18,200 students from 23 countries around the world. Students are split into nine age categories and scored out of 40 points. They have the possibility of taking home a gold, silver, or bronze medal for scoring in the top five, 10, and 15 per cent respectively in each age category.

Math Club students with their silver and bronze medals earned in an international math tournament.

Grades 7 and 8 SMCS students with their silver and bronze medals earned in the fall round of the Mathematics Without Borders Tournament.

“In our first competition, we had five students distinguish themselves, receiving two silver medals and three bronze medals in the fall round,” says Dr. Zavodny.

Grade 7 students Chanoh Song and Haowen Zhang each received silver medals for their achievements. Grade 8 students Frederic Ho and Ronan Zhong, and Grade 9 student, Kieran Cline also received bronze medals in their age categories.

“The overall experience of competing in the Mathematics Without Border Tournament was new and a unique experience," says Song. “It was one of my first times competing in an international competition in a school. This experience really helped me get an interest in math and other competitions. To say humbly, I am proud of my accomplishment of getting a silver medal in an international competition. Getting a silver medal also means that there is a higher place, (gold) for me to achieve.”

Other students who received certificates of distinction include: Ethan Ahn, Tushar Arora, Anthony Roy Casey, David Choi, Lincoln Alexander Cumming, Ziqi Lin, Joseph Luo, Andrew Miranda, Daniel Pellegrini, Gian-Paul Ranieri, Xi Yang, Joshua Yi, and Joshua Robert Yi.

Math Club students with their certificates earned in an international math tournament.

SMCS students also received certificates of distinction for participating in the international tournament.

“This is the first time I wrote in the Mathematics Without Borders Tournament,” says Zhong. “It is different from other math competitions, as there might be more than one answer for a question. You need to give all the possible answers to get the full mark for the question. Luckily, Dr. Zavodny provided a practice test for us before we wrote the actual one, so I knew what was expected. I felt nervous for the first 10 minutes and then calmed down and only focused on questions.”

“The club prepares for the competition by meeting weekly in small groups to practice previous tests, exploring extra topics taught by SMCS Math Department faculty, such as the use of eigenvalues in algebra taught by Noel DiTosto, vectors and planes in 3D taught by Irene Dankowycz, and convergent and divergent series taught by myself,” says Dr. Zavodny. 

“In addition, the club has organized seminars provided by external experts; this year the Math Club was able to have a Zoom session with a professor from the University of Toronto on tiling and symmetries with a focus on coxeter polygons and their use in kaleidoscopes.”

The annual tournament consists of three rounds that take place in the fall, winter, and spring which are all conducted at participants’ schools. The final round, which takes place in the summer, is held in person in Bulgaria.

“We are looking forward to another strong performance as our team will compete in the winter session this January 2022,” adds Dr. Zavodny.

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