STEM: Girls UK Maths Achievement

Megan Keeping, previously at The Petersfield School plus Claudia Kirby, formerly at Tormead School had a formula for success at the UK Mathematical Olympiad for Girls recently. The competition, open only to the country’s top female mathematicians, aims to encourage and inspire more girls to get hands-on and excel in the subject.

Megan and Claudia out-performed many of their maths peers, with Megan achieving 31/50 in the tough paper. Both receive a Certification of Participation and Megan a Certificate of Distinction. From a total of 1577of the highest achieving female maths students in the UK she was placed at a fantastic joint 112th putting her in the top 8% of students who participated nationally.

Claudia described the competition as a ‘challenging but very worthwhile experience’ while Megan confirmed she would love to do it all again. She said:  ‘I would definitely do it again if given the opportunity, it was really good fun’.

Both Megan and Claudia have applied to study at the University of Cambridge, and Megan participated in the College’s specialist course: ‘Applying for Competitive Courses’, which is part of the More Able and Talented Programme. Megan hopes to study Engineering and Claudia is keen to study Maths.

Megan is taking the Extended Project Qualification in addition to her A level subjects. She is exploring evidence for the Big Bang and for Creation and assessing the extent to which someone could believe in both ideas. The EPQ gives students the opportunity to research a topic that interests them in order to extend current learning.

The girls were entered into the competition by David Lynch, Curriculum Manager for Maths at Alton College. They both achieved Gold in the Senior Maths Challenge 2015 in addition to achieving high scores in their AS Maths exams this summer.

David Lynch who teaches both girls said: ‘I am very proud of these students, since only excellent female mathematicians nationally would have taken part, their achievement is even better than it sounds. They should be very proud of what they have accomplished. They both have very bright futures ahead of them.’

In a recent department trip, Math students including Claudia joined counterparts from Lord Wandsworth College for a fascinating talk by author and Mathematician Alex Bellos. The talk entitled ‘How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life: the psychology of numbers, algorithms and cellular automata’ was based around his book called ‘Alex Through the Looking Glass’. His engaging stories and limitless enthusiasm for maths were infectious. One student explained the talk had ‘opened my eyes to a whole new world of Maths’. Alex demonstrated how numbers have come to be our friends and how they have changed our world.

A sample of questions faced by the girls can be viewed here

Find out more about studying Maths at Alton College here

Find out more about the More Able and Talented Programme here

Find out more about the EPQ here