A NEWPORT numbers whizz has taken home a medal from a national maths competition after answering university-style questions.
Thirteen-year-old Joris Josiek, who attends Caerleon Comprehensive School, entered the UK Maths Trust (UKMT) challenge along with everyone else in his year group, Year 9, as well as Years 10 and 11.
He scored so highly that he went on to enter the Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad along with around 500 others.
Last year the junior exam, which is easier than the intermediate, featured questions like, “For how many three-digit positive integers does the product of the digits equal 20?”.
Another question was “I want to write a list of integers containing two square numbers, two prime numbers and two cube numbers. What is the smallest number of integers that could be in my list?”
Joris, who speaks multiple languages, tackled six questions over the course of two hours.
The questions were so open-ended in their style that they are comparable with the first year of a university maths degree, said maths challenge organiser at Caerleon, maths teacher Stephen Tull.
In this year’s intermediate test, Joris would have faced questions like this one: “The two-digit integer 19 is equal to the product of its digits plus the sum of its digits. Find all two-digit integers with this property”.
Another question was: “Rachel gave half of her money to Howard, then Howard gave a third of all his money to Rachel. They each ended up with the same amount of money. Find the ratio amount that Rachel started with versus the amount that Howard started with.”
“He has done really well,” said Mr Tull, who has been at Caerleon for two years.
“These questions are like nothing that’s on the curriculum, it’s such high-level thinking it’s almost impossible to gauge it.
“It’s almost like the first year of university maths, not necessarily in terms of difficulty but in terms of the open way the questions are written.
“Joris has been on our radar for a long time and he will probably sit his GCSE and A-level exams early,” he said.
If Joris had scored just a couple more points he would have been eligible for the competition’s top prize, the book prize, said Mr Tull.
High scorers are also sometimes invited to take part in in UKMT’s summer schools programme.