Getting a head-start for this year’s Mathematics olympiads

SU's Dr Stephan Wagner (far right) will coach the learners for this year’s olympiads, supported by Ms Melissa Kistner (far left), a postgraduate chemical engineering student. The learners are, from the left, Daniel Robinson (grade 12), Inès Mars (grade 11), Katerine van der Spuy (grade 8); and in the back Ha Ram Yang (grade 11), Andrew Harrison-Migochi (grade 10), and Mark Doyle (grade 10). Kayla Vorster (grade 10) was absent when the photo was taken.

SU’s Dr Stephan Wagner (far right) will coach the learners for this year’s olympiads, supported by Ms Melissa Kistner (far left), a postgraduate chemical engineering student. The learners are, from the left, Daniel Robinson (grade 12), Inès Mars (grade 11), Katerine van der Spuy (grade 8); and in the back Ha Ram Yang (grade 11), Andrew Harrison-Migochi (grade 10), and Mark Doyle (grade 10). Kayla Vorster (grade 10) was absent when the photo was taken.

Learners from several high schools in Stellenbosch, Somerset West and surrounding areas have been selected to receive specialised training through the South African Mathematics Foundation’s Siyanqoba regional olympiad training programme, hosted by Stellenbosch University’s Department of Mathematical Sciences.

Funded by the Department of Science and Technology, the aim of the programme is to reach learners who show particular ability and interest in mathematics. There are several Siyanqoba centres throughout the country, with Stellenbosch University being one of the newer centres, launched in 2012.

The selection of the learners was based on their excellent performance at a Mathematics Experience Day held earlier this year, in which about 200 learners from 15 local schools participated.

According to Dr Stephan Wagner, a lecturer in the Mathematics division of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, the programme concentrates on developing problem-solving skills and understanding of mathematical concepts. It also involves hard work and training throughout the year to prepare for the various Olympiads. He is supported by Ms Melissa Kistner, a postgraduate chemical engineering student at SU, while Prof Pieter Maritz is responsible for the coordination of the Siyanqoba-project at the university.