Friday, 24 Aug 2018

Mathematics the winner at IMMC Awards in Melbourne

The International Mathematics Modeling Challenge Awards celebrated the value of maths in everyday life.

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) was delighted to host the 2018 International Mathematical Modeling Challenge (IM2C) Awards in Melbourne last weekend.

The team from Canberra’s Radford College (designated as ‘outstanding’ in the international judging) was joined in Melbourne by the four teams of students designated at the next level (meritorious achievement) ­– from the US, China, Taiwan and Indonesia – for two days of celebration, sightseeing and maths-themed activities.

Each year, the IM2C challenges secondary students working in teams of up to four, with an adult advisor, to use mathematical modelling to solve a common everyday problem – in 2018, how to choose a hospital for non-emergency treatment. At the awards ceremony on Saturday 18 August, each team shared its solution and took questions from the assembled crowd.

‘It was a celebration of the joy of mathematics,’ said ACER Principal Research Fellow and administrator of the IM2C in Australia Ross Turner. ‘Seeing the enthusiasm with which these talented students presented their work, and demonstrated the impact that maths can have on everyday life, was incredibly heartening.’

The awards ceremony was marked by speeches from ACER Chief Executive Geoff Masters, and Sol Garfunkel, chair of the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications (COMAP) – the not-for-profit administrator of the challenge internationally ­– and a video message from Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Education and Training, Tanya Plibersek.

Other dignitaries from the worlds of diplomacy, education and STEM in attendance included: the Indonesian Consul of Economic Affairs, Mr Zaenal Arafin, and Vice Consul of Economic Affairs, Ms Orchida Sekarratri Danudjaja; from the IM2C international organising committee, Mr Alfred Cheung (NeoUnion ESC Organization) and Mr Ross Turner (ACER); from IM2C Australia, Michael O’Connor (AMSI), Rodolfo Garcia-Flores (CSIRO) and Alistair Carr (formerly of Federation University Gippsland); and from the Mathematical Association of Victoria (MAV), Max Stephens, Jim Spithill and Tom Moore.

ACER Deputy CEO – Professional Resources, Ralph Saubern, launched Mathematical Modelling: A Guidebook for Teachers and Teams by Peter Galbraith and Derek Holton at the awards.

Beyond the ceremony, the visiting teams and their accompanying advisors were taken on a series of guided activities, a highlight of which was a visit to the CSIRO Data61 group in Melbourne’s Docklands. While CSIRO researchers showcased the many ways in which mathematics informs our world, such as financial modelling, business optimisation and ecological investigation, students used headsets to road-test virtual reality software developed to model the spread of bushfires.

Entries for the 2019 IM2C open later in second semester 2018, in preparation for the next IM2C that will take place towards the end of first term in 2019. View full results for 2018, including the winning solution, and register for more information at www.immchallenge.org.au.