Fun and games in the fast lane

21st March 1997 at 00:00
MATHEMATICAL CHALLENGE By Tony Gardiner Cambridge University Press. Pounds 5.95

The UK Schools Mathematical Challenge is an annual contest designed for the top 35 per cent of pupils aged 11 to 14 (Years 7-9). In 1995, more than 100,000 entries were received, so the level of participation is significant by any standard. Most of the questions could be attempted by pupils out of the top 35 per cent ability range, many would provide a challenge for older pupils as well.

Tony Gardiner has been one of the driving forces behind Mathematical Challenge for a number of years. Section A comprises the first six papers (1988 to 1993), together with answers. Each paper contains 25 questions of increasing difficulty, to be attempted in one hour, without the use of a calculator. Section B contains 45 short problem papers (10 questions per paper), of a similar nature but more suited to a 30-minute "puzzle period". To give a flavour of the questions, one asks: "What is the angle between the hands of a clock at quarter to three? A. 170 degrees; B. 175 degrees; C. 175 degrees; D. 177.5 degrees; E. 180 degrees." All questions are written in multiple-choice format for ease and speed of marking. The justification for a Mathematical Challenge of this kind is two-fold. It makes pupils see that problem-solving can be fun. Any teacher wishing to achieve either or both of these aims would be well advised to obtain a copy of this book.

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