The children had entered a zone where there were no calculators, just paper, pen and their heads to rely on when doing all the calculations. The students were taking part in the Math Challenge ’18, organised by Dawn Media Group and EDeQUAL at the Karachi School of Business & Leadership.
Cell phones, too, were seen as a problem, perhaps one bigger than the math problems they were expected to solve. And not just for the contestants, even the audience. The other contestants, teachers and parents sitting in the audience were requested to switch off or turn their phones to silent mode before putting them inside their bags, which were then deposited to one side of the auditorium.
Without any electronic device on them, the audience also got involved in the competition as they too tried solving the problems in their heads. Sometimes when the contestants answered correctly, they even forgot to clap as they were themselves too busy coming up with the answers.
The ‘Hot Spot’ segment, which kicked off the competition, seemed simple enough with up to three minutes allowed to answer each question. But that was it, so simple. How can any round, which punishes by giving negative points, minus 10 for every wrong answer be seen as simple? And losing points was entirely the teams’ fault because they should not have hit the buzzer if they didn’t know the correct answer. Speed thrills, but kills, remember?
‘Hot Spot’ was the segment that threw many teams way behind as they first had to make up for the minus points before finding themselves anywhere over the zero mark line on the points table. But it was also the segment which saw those who answered correctly climb up.
This was followed by the ‘Jeopardy’ round. Jeopardy is a popular American game show where the contestants are asked general knowledge questions carrying various points under different categories. Here the students were asked mathematics questions under categories such as ‘Numbers’, ‘Shapes’, ‘Spaces’, ‘Relationships’, ‘Data’ and ‘Thinking’.
There were four questions under each category, carrying 10, 20, 30 and 40 points. It goes without explaining that the questions carrying 10 points were the easiest and those carrying 40 points being the most difficult ones to calculate or figure out.
But the contestants, including students of classes seven, eight, nine and 10, demonstrated the highest form of intellectual, analytical and problem-solving skills. They were totally up for the challenge. Classes seven and eight constituted group one and classes nine and 10 constituted group two.
But whatever group they belonged to, they were the cream of mathematicians among their age group, selected from 150 schools across Pakistan. And these included government schools as well as leading private schools. The first round of the competition was successfully completed in January within each of the participating schools using a technology link-up that was managed by EDeQUAL. About 6,500 students from across schools in Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Jhang, Islamabad and Peshawar participated in the first round.
Students accessed the Math Challenge questions from their school computer labs, and their scores were automatically calculated and transmitted via internet to the EDeQUAL servers. These were transparently compiled and shared with each school, to allow them to choose the highest scoring students for their school teams. The school teams — comprising each school’s top scorers — competed in the second round of the challenge, the regionals, before making it to the finals.
Congratulations to Dawn for initiating the Math Challenge in partnership with EDeQUAL — another step forward in support of today’s bright young Pakistanis — and congratulations to the winning teams in the regional rounds and the finals.
Math Challenge, a team-based, inter-school, national competition for students of classes seven to 10, operates on a live game show format using quiz technology with participants using tablets and/
or computers to solve problems and analytical challenges.
Oxford University Press Pakistan is proud to be a sponsor of Dawn’s Spelling Bee and Math Challenge programmes, which bring together students from across the country in healthy competition. It was very encouraging to see the level of interest and competence in the students as they proved themselves at each level.
I wish the organisers, participants and winners of this event all the best for their future success.
Group one (Classes 7 and 8):
Lahore Grammar School-Jr & Middle JT Boys (Lahore)
Wali Waqar (Class 7) and Rai M. Zain-ul-Abideen
Habib Girls School (Karachi)
Arisha Ferhaj (Class 7) and Saleha Abid (Class 8)
Group two (Classes 9 and 10):
The City School North Nazimabad Boys Campus (Karachi)
Ali Masood (Class 9) and Ayyan Masood (Class 10) &
Happy Home School (Karachi)
Mohammad Hammad Javed (Class 9) and Mohammad Ashar Siddiqui (Class 10)
EMS High School (Islamabad)
Ali Abdullah (Class 9) and Nizalia Siddiqui (Class 10).
Published in Dawn, Young World, March 31st, 2018