Rhodes University treats high school learners to the 9th Maths Experience

Students writing at Barratt during the Maths Experience
Students writing at Barratt during the Maths Experience

By: Zindzi Nkunzi


Friday 14 February 2020 was a Friday like no other for high school learners when they were treated to a Rhodes University Maths Experience (RUME) at the Barratt Lecture Theatre complex. RUME is an annual event that hosts grade 7-12 learners from various schools from Makhanda and surrounding areas.

“We used to invite learners from Makhanda schools but we later broadened out to include the wider region, including schools from Alexandria, Alicedale, Bathurst, Bushmans River, Kenton-on-Sea, Port Alfred, and we even have one school from Port Elizabeth,” said RUME Coordinator, Mr Andrew Stevens.

RUME has been running for nine consecutive years and it has been a successful event that aims at encouraging and motivating learners to strive for more and do better in Mathematics problem-solving. RUME reported an exceptional growth in numbers of learners attending the event. “Our previous average attendance is 280, but this year 360 learners took part,” said Andrew.

The competition comprises of three question papers: grade 7-8, grade 9-10 and grade 11-12 papers, with problem–solving questions of Olympiad standard. Joyce Sewry, Deputy Dean of Science at Rhodes University, outlined three significant aspects of the initiative. “The initiative is built on community engagement, it showcases Rhodes University and encourages a love of Maths, which is necessary in our country,” she said.

“The learners who have done well are invited to join the Siyanqoba programme for the rest of the year. In this programme learners do Maths on Friday afternoons at Nombulelo Secondary and we have workshops to encourage students to take part in the Olympiads,” said Sewry.

A grade 10 learner from Victoria Girls High, Mihlali Ngeleza, said, “The competition is helpful, especially if you get the bursary prize to study at Rhodes University. It assists you to put more effort in sections that you are not strong in.”

While the teachers went to assist in marking the learners’ papers, Andrew led a fun Maths talk with the learners, going through some of the questions they got in the papers. He gave out a number of Sharp calculators to the brave learners who were able to explain their solutions in front of the large audience.

As last year’s winner, Mary Waters High School received a class set of boxes of Sharp Calculators. The Grade 11 and 12 competition was won by Chase De Doncher from Alexander Road High in Port Elizabeth. Michael Velloza (St Andrew’s), James Stadler (St Andrew’s) and Evagelos Batsis (Alexander Road) tied for 2nd place. The winners of the Rhodes Scholarships were Chad de Doncher, Michael Velloza and Tyler Bovey of Kingswood College. The Grade 9 and 10 competition was won by Erin Powers (DSG) with an outstanding score of 94%. Wafa Rizvi (VGHS) and Joshua Pretorius (SAC) came second and third. The Grade 7 and 8 competition was won by Angela Dietrich (DSG), with Luke Williams (Kingswood) and Reece Coetzer (Port Alfred HS) in second and third place.

Guests at the RUME included Rhodes University’s SARCHI Chair in Maths Education, Professor Marc Schafer and Lecturer in the Department of Maths, Dr Catherine McLean. The All Saints Education Development Trust was the sponsor of the Experience with Seartec (Sharp Calculators) providing a number of calculators as prizes.