The Tessellation Sensation

Inter-school mathematics celebration showcases Nobel ‘mathletes’

This spring, the first annual Nobel Education Network mathematics celebration challenged Nobel students to showcase their skills with numbers and share their enjoyment of mathematics. Organized by maths teachers across the Network, the event was designed to bring Nobel Schools closer together while celebrating the wonder of mathematics and honoring Nobel’s “mathletes.”

Early Years and Primary students participated in a variety of fun, maths-related activities. The students invented rhymes to help memorize times tables, and learned about tessellations—mosaic patterns made of shapes fitted together repetitively without gaps. The students looked for examples of tessellations in their environment and in the artwork of M.C. Escher, and at the European International School Ho Chi Minh City they worked in teams to create their own designs using tiles at the edge of a swimming pool.

“The younger students were so excited about making the tessellations,” said Natalie O’Connor, Nobel’s Network Development Manager. “We received calls from parents the next day asking ‘What is a tessellation? My four-year-old won’t stop talking about it!’”

For Secondary students, the event included an inter-school maths competition. Students in Grades 6-8 competed in the Inter-School Junior Mathematics Competition, while Grades 9 and 10 students competed at the Senior level.

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First, the students completed puzzles and maths problems individually. The best performers were then placed in teams that competed against each other within each school. Finally, the winning teams from each Nobel School competed against each other for first place in the Network. “The teachers worked very hard to choose games and puzzles representing a variety of maths disciplines,” said Ms. O’Connor. “We wanted to present students with a range of problems that they wouldn’t be able to solve easily.”

In the Junior competition, teams from Amadeus Vienna, European Ho Chi Minh City and Nobel Istanbul competed. Amadeus Vienna and European HCMC also fielded Senior teams. The team from Nobel Istanbul won the Junior division, while European Ho Chi Minh City—who have also recently had great success competing against other international schools in Ho Chi Minh City in the Saigon Mathematics Competition—took Senior honors.

“Celebrating maths complements our IB approach, because it requires students to think and to inquire. It also challenges us to find talents within our students that we can foster,” said Ms. O’Connor. “Giving them this opportunity both acknowledges their achievement and challenges them to continue to improve.”

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The maths celebration also emphasized the critical skills of teamwork and problem solving. “We strive for authentic learning by putting our students in real world situations,” explained Ms. O’Connor. “In the 21st century, we require more of our students than just knowing a formula. Problems are defined and solved by teams. So even though this is a maths competition, it requires the same skills students will eventually need in the workplace.”

The organizers are already beginning to plan next year’s maths celebration, which will include even more challenging puzzles along with mentoring and coaching for the ‘mathletes’.

“Hosting this type of event gives our students the opportunity to challenge their own perceptions of their talents, and reach for even higher goals,” said Ms. O’Connor. “We want our students to be inquirers and thinkers, and to reflect on their successes. Internal motivation drives our students towards excellence, so we actively explore ways to offer those opportunities.”

European International School Ho Chi Minh City is an IB World School offering an academic and supportive English language education for students ages 2-18 years. For more information, please visit www.eishcmc.com or contact the school via email [email protected] / telephone number (+848) 7300 7257.

BIO: Iain Fish is the Head of School at the European International School Ho Chi Minh City.

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