The future requires problem solvers with reasoning skills. One way to hone and refine this ability is to become fluent in mathematics, which may not be the answer anyone was expecting. However, it’s not about farfetched problems and suspicious behaviour like John needing to buy 46 watermelons to help solve a real problem in your life. It is the skills used to frame the problem, identifying the knowns and unknowns, then taking steps to solve the problem – that is the important strategy applied to other challenges in life.
A subject like mathematics is improved with practice through quizzes, exams and even competitions, to benchmark skills with other mathematics enthusiasts in the same vicinity or overseas. Events like the Kangaroo Math Competition brings students in primary, secondary and tertiary students from all over the world to test their proficiency in the subject, which is the main reason why 13 students from the Cambridge A Level and Australian Matriculation at Methodist College Kuala Lumpur (MCKL) decided to partake in the world’s largest competition.
The Malaysian leg of the Kangaroo Math Competition 2022 edition had almost 46,000 participants representing over 1,500 schools in the nation. In each edition, 10% of contestants are announced as winners in the gold, silver, and bronze medallists, the next 40% receive an Honourable Mention, while the remaining 50% receive a certificate of participation.
Sean Eric Soon Chern Ann, MCKL’s most recent Cambridge A Level graduate, was delighted to learn he received the silver medal, “This was my second experience at the Kangaroo Math Competition, and while I had the opportunity to participate throughout my time in the Wesleyan Methodist School KL (International), I never thought I was good enough. The first time I joined the competition, I won a bronze medal and since college was a new phase in my life, I thought why not try and see where I stood in my skills.”
Bronze winner, Qirat Faisal was honoured to secure in the Top 10%, “Because when I saw the results, I was astonished. I was not really expecting it, and to still end up there means a great deal to me,” he said. “I’m a more math-oriented person, so when I heard about Kangaroo Math, I thought it was a good chance for me to do something in math which is out of the course, and to get a certificate as well.”
Other bronze winners, Adam Soh Shi Jie and Nicholas Lau Zhi Xuan shared the same mindset in which to test their mathematical skills to the limit, “The competition acted as a confirmation of my skills at my current level. I firmly believe our efforts won’t lie,” said Adam.
“I practiced a lot of the Kangaroo Math past year papers and worked on the parts that were difficult for me,” said Nicholas. “I am very happy because I managed to receive a medal, I will continue to work hard in the future.”
Some parting advice from the winners included, “Practice good habits, for example, sufficient sleep, leisure reading, eagerness to learn. These habits can be the foundation of success,” said Nicholas. Qirat adds that, “Don’t stress too much on it, just practice a lot of past kangaroo math paper, and recheck your answers once you’re done to avoid any careless mistakes. Also, do not let it get in the way of your academic course, just take an hour of your day to practice for it. Most importantly, try your best not to procrastinate and grind over it last minute.”
The competition began in France by the Association Kangourou sans Frontieres (AKSF) seeing more than 4 million participants every year, from 96 countries. In Malaysia, the Kangaroo Math Competition has been active since 2013, to expose students with math problems designed by internationally renowned math educators.