CityU hosts Hong Kong's largest Joint Primary School Mathematics Competition

Jenny Kwan

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The results of a primary school mathematics competition jointly organized by City University of Hong Kong (CityU), the Hong Kong Association for Science and Mathematics Education and secondary schools from 18 districts in Hong Kong show that students do best in questions from the learning syllabus, but are weaker at handling questions which require analysis, problem solving and investigation.

The 4th Hong Kong Joint Primary School Mathematics Competition was held on 27 January and 3 February. An awards presentation ceremony was held on 3 March. The competition extended to 18 districts this year and is the largest mathematics contest of its kind in Hong Kong. About 4,000 students from 407 primary schools took part.

Professor Henry Chung Shu-hung, Associate Dean of CityU's Faculty of Science and Engineering, said that CityU, as an institute of higher education, was dedicated to promoting educational advancement in the secondary and primary sectors through a variety of activities. The competition has been well received by students, parents and teachers, and it demonstrates CityU's commitment to reaching out to the secondary and primary sectors, and to promoting mathematics education in Hong Kong.

"The Faculty of Science and Engineering, for instance, has been proactive in reaching out to the secondary and primary sectors through activities like the Mathematics Competition for Primary Schools and the Science and Engineering Fun Days. These are very good opportunities for students to apply arithmetic and science knowledge to solving problems in daily life and thus encourage a stronger motivation to learn," Professor Chung said.

By relating arithmetic knowledge to a number of fun-filled problems found in daily life, the Competition aims at stimulating students’ interest in Mathematics and instills in them the ability to calculate, work in teams and solve problems. The contest comprises three parts: "Arithmetic Twist and Turn" using paper and pens; "Math Trail" related to practical problems encountered in a campus environment; and "Smart Math" using computers to solve problems.

The organizer assessed the students on their arithmetic ability and frequent errors. Preliminary results have shown that students performed best in "Arithmetic Twist and Turn" using the traditional method of paper and pens to answer questions related to their learning syllabus. Their performance in analysis, problem solving and research was not as strong, and their verbal communication also needs to improve.

Professor Chung said that the results of the competition showed that students needed to improve their problem-solving and research abilities, and he advised students to apply arithmetic knowledge in daily life.

A report will be sent to the Education and Manpower Bureau for reference, and participating schools might adjust their teaching methods to optimize learning effectiveness with reference to the appraisal results.

Ms Ophelia Lee Wai-yin, a CityU graduate in mathematics and a member of the Organizing Committee of the Mathematics Competition this year, said: "I am glad that I have contributed to devising the questions this time. As a secondary school teacher, I find the competition a precious opportunity to get connected to and to share experience with teachers from the secondary and tertiary sector."

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