Alstonville Public School’s 5/6W class came first in Australia in the recent World Maths Day competition. Andrew Entwhistle (front) came 88th in the world.
Alstonville Public School’s 5/6W class came first in Australia in the recent World Maths Day competition. Andrew Entwhistle (front) came 88th in the world.

Clever kids tops in maths

Alstonville Public School’s 5/6W class has been ranked first in Australia and 19th in the world for primary schools in the recent online World Maths Day competition.

The competition involves students answering as many questions as they can in one-minute bursts. Each student may do as many as 500 minutes in the allocated time (58 hours to allow for different time zones) and some Alstonville students were working well into the night and getting up as early as 4am to get their numbers up.

The questions involved multiplication, division, addition, subtractions, fractions and identifying the next number in a given sequence, with the level of difficulty increasing with each round.

Alstonville student Andrew Entwhistle managed an astonishing 23,680 correct answers, which ranked him 88th in the world among the 1.1 million competitors. Andrew was answering an average of 71 questions per minute.

“With many schools using voice recognition software to make scoring faster and easier, Andrew’s achievement using only keyboard skills is even more remarkable,” teacher David Wright said.

A total of 56,082 schools from 235 countries took part in the event and Mr Wright said their strategy this year was to get as many kids as possible to complete the 500 rounds. The scores and ranking for each class and each individual could be viewed live throughout the competition.

“Andrew’s success encouraged other kids to do as well. It became a bit like a feeding frenzy,” Mr Wright said.

The class completed 237,868 correct answers and Mr Wright said many of the students increased both their speed and their accuracy as the competition went on.

5/6W is one of only two “opportunity classes” for gifted and talented students on the North Coast. Entry is via an examination conducted by the Education Department. One family moved from Western Australia so their child could be in the class. David Wright said he has one student at the moment who is the fourth in the family to come through the class.

“I love it, I still get such a buzz out of it,” he said. “They have been doing PowerPoint presentations recently and one girl did one on the erosion at Belongil Beach that was better than anything I’ve seen on the TV.”

Apart from the gruelling maths competition, most of the students also handed in a 1000-word story for the Norman Lindsay Festival of Children’s Literature Competition last week.

“When you read their stories you can’t believe they are from kids in Year 5 and 6... but they were all pretty tired on Friday,” Mr Wright said.


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