9 May 2019

On Tuesday, 26th March, Robert Morris, Lily Wyatt, Charlotte Mulhearn and Josh Littler went on a trip with Mr Caldwell to St Edwards College in Liverpool to participate in the 2019 UKMT Maths Challenge. There were 28 high schools competing and we were delighted to finish in 2nd place. When we arrived at St Edward’s College, we were amazed with how lovely it looked but that wasn’t what we were there to do: we were there to do maths! 

There were four different rounds in the competition and the first one was ‘the group round’. We had forty-five minutes to solve ten difficult maths questions. When the time started, we split up the questions amongst the four of us and cracked on. After half the time had gone, we had finished eight of the questions and still had two left, but we managed to solve them with enough time to check our answers. 

The second round was ‘the cross-number’. The cross-number was just like a crossword, but the questions didn’t give words for answers, they gave numbers for answers instead. However, the hard part was that we had to split up into two pairs who couldn’t speak to each other and one pair got the across clues and one pair got the down clues. When the round started, we sailed along at a steady pace for the first thirty minutes but when we got to ten minutes left, we hit a wall. Lily and Robert couldn’t solve any more of their clues and Charlotte and Josh couldn’t solve any more of theirs, so we just guessed... but sadly, they were wrong. Overall, we got 49 out of 56 which we found pretty good. 

After the first two rounds, the judges announced the top nine schools in alphabetical order so that their positions weren’t fully revealed: we were on that list! After the top nine schools were announced, we had our lunch and Lily wanted to give a special mention to the cookies that were given to us, because they were absolutely delicious! 

After lunch, the third round was about to start, and it required us to split into two pairs again but this time we decided to put Robert and Josh together in a pair and Lily and Charlotte in a pair. The third round was ‘the shuttle’ which involved four sets of four questions (sixteen in total) but what was special about these questions was that after you solved the first question, each question after that  required the answer to the previous question in order to be solved - meaning that if one of the answers was wrong, all the others afterwards would be wrong. Sadly, this is what happened to us. We got some of the questions wrong but by the time we noticed, unfortunately time was up.  We scored 22 out of 60 in the shuttle which, in all honesty, we weren’t very happy with. 

The final round was ‘the relay’. It involved us splitting into two pairs that would sit on opposite sides of the hall to each other and one by one, the pairs would answer a question, run to the teachers who were marking and if they got the question correct, run and give the other pair their question. It combined mental endurance with physical endurance: the ultimate test. Charlotte and Robert went as a pair and Josh and Lily went as a pair; this was the pairing which we found worked the best.  

This was the round which we did best in by far, in relation to other teams, because at the end of the frantic forty-five minutes, we had scored 50 out of 60 which, compared to other schools, was a very good score. 

After the final round, we had to wait for about ten minutes for all the scores to be added up and the winner to be decided. During this time, we all discussed where we thought we had finished out of the twenty-eight schools and we all generally agreed that we probably came somewhere in the top seven but all we could do at that moment was sit and wait. 

When the lady who was running the competition stood up to announce the top three, the room fell silent. We were all listening carefully to find out whether we were in that top three, even though we thought that we weren’t. But when our school wasn’t announced as third, we stopped listening: we were losing hope. However, this hope was replaced by pure delight after St Edmund Arrowsmith was announced in second place! We walked down the hall to the front to get our prize and when we arrived, we were congratulated and presented with our certificates and prizes. 

On the way home, we all celebrated with M&M’s that Lily had brought as a snack. We couldn’t believe the day that we had just had. 

HOT OFF THE PRESS!!!!!! 

We have just received the very exciting news that even though we weren’t the winners in this heat, because we had such a high score, we have qualified for the UK final, which will take place in London on 17th June. We will be pitted against over 60 top schools and will have to be at the top of our game to be in with a chance of being crowned the top student mathematicians in the country.  We will do our very best to do that! Watch this space! 

By Robert Morris, Year 8