Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX students excel, boost skills in head-to-head calculus competition

March 1st, 2018
L-r, Tiffany Tsui (1st place), Lauren Barter (2nd place), and Meaghan MacDonald (3rd place)

Calculus skills were put to the test on February 28 as the StFX Mathematics & Statistics Department hosted the 2018 Integration Challenge for first year calculus students.

Students competed head-to-head solving integration problems from calculus in a tournament funded by the Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences.

Tiffany Tsui took home first place in the competition, followed by Lauren Barter in second, and Meaghan MacDonald in third place. The top three winners shared $500 of prize money.

"In holding the event, we are hoping to foster the excitement that comes with tackling and overcoming challenging math problems, in a fun environment. Everyone who participated showed real skill in the face of the pressure of performing difficult mathematics quickly and in front of others, and the finalists should be quite proud of their performance among a very talented pool of students," says StFX mathematics professor Dr. Ryan Lukeman.

He says the Integration Challenge is modelled on an annual competition held at MIT, where students compete to solve integrals, an important first-year calculus skill that can require a lot of ingenuity.

Integrals, he says, are great for focusing some of the essential skills of mathematics—strong fundamentals, pattern recognition, and creativity.

“Incidentally, these skills are also invaluable to forming quantitative critical thinkers who, down the road, will be creating solutions in an increasingly complex world," he says.


“The Integration Challenge was a great experience for me,” says Ms. MacDonald, a first year science student and graduate of Memorial Composite High School in Sydney Mines, NS. “It was an opportunity to push my mathematical abilities and perform under pressure.”

She says competitors were given a five-minute time limit per question and the first to correctly answer won the round. “It was a little intimidating trying to solve the problems when all eyes were on me, but it was a very friendly competition where everyone showed respect when others performed. All students who participated showed great mathematical talent and the professors did an amazing job putting the tournament together in a fair way. It was excellent practice for calculus class and am glad to have had the opportunity to participate,” she says.

Dr. Lukeman says the department extends sincere thanks for the support from the Atlantic Association for Research In the Mathematical Sciences (AARMS), “a great organization that supports math research and outreach in the Atlantic region."

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