Who hasn’t seen a kindergartener with a backpack so big it’s almost dragging on the ground.

Four kindies at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Primary School Fairfield have taken matters into their own hands and designed and then made a 3-D model of a school bag that’s much easier on their little backs.

Our Lady of the Rosary Fairfield student Bryan Yeung’s impressive 2-D school bag design

Kindy student Bryan Yeung’s impressive 2-D school bag design.

Cindy Wang, Bryan Yeung, Chandler Tran and Hannah Ly were among four teams from Our Lady who have wowed the judges of a prestigious mathematical competition with their ingenuity.

The Investigating with Mathematics Competition, run by the Mathematical Association of NSW (MANSW), asks students in Kindergarten to Year 12 to come up with a solution to a real-life problem using maths.

Teams in Kindergarten, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 6 at Our Lady placed first in the state competition and then Kindergarten and Year 1 went on to come first in Australia, with Year 2 and 6 receiving Highly Commended Awards.

“We are very proud of our students and teachers,” school principal, Jackie Vella, said.

Bryan and Hannah said winning made them “happy.”

Dr Christine Mae, Sydney Catholic Schools’ (SCS) K-12 Mathematics and Numeracy Education Officer, said: “It is exciting to see that we have such young minds engaging in high levels of challenge by investigating real-world problems in and around the school.”

Our Lady of the Rosary Fairfield kindy student, Chandler Tran

“I’m the smartest in the family,” claims kindy student, Chandler Tran. “I’ve learnt how to count up to septillion!”


Using a 2-D plan, Cindy Wang, Bryan Yeung, Chandler Tran and Hannah Ly designed a new school bag that was lighter and easier to carry than their old one. They made papier-mâché 3-D models of the bags from recyclable materials after estimating and measuring the volume of different-sized bags. They gathered grade data; created graphs; made inferences; estimated, measured and compared bags using informal units; and obtained cost quotes to make the bags.

Year 1
Donovan David, Ashour Aziz, Chelsea Nguyen and Oscar Hua looked at how fairly balls have been distributed across the school and possible reasons why balls are getting lost. They gathered school data; created graphs; made inferences; found out the cost of classroom balls; and re-designed the canteen roof, testing the effectiveness of it with 3-D models.

Ashour said his favourite part of the project was making the school canteen using sticky tape, glue and paddle pop sticks. “It looked like the real canteen,” he remarked.

Year 2
Trent Mai, Afa Manu, Jayden Lee and Lidio Lee investigated the feasibility of providing milk to all students. They researched the best value for money; calculated the number of milk packets that can fit in a fridge and cupboard; worked out the properties of a milk carton (e.g. faces, edges and vertices) and the relationship between a cubic centimetre (cm3) and a millilitre (mL). They also graphed the results of a survey on the number of students who would like to get milk at school.

“I like to use my brain and I like working with numbers,” said Lideo. Jayden said his favourite part of the project was making a model milk carton “using centicubes” (cm3 is equal to a millilitre or one-thousandth of a litre).

Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Primary School Fairfield Year 1 maths competition winners hold up their certificates

Our Lady’s Year 1 MANSW competition winners.

Year 6
Elysha Nguyen, Jayden Singh, Margret Zheng, Adriana Li and Vincent Lee came up with a detailed scaled plan to refurbish the school admin and staff areas, including painting and carpeting these areas and installing new blinds, air-conditioning and furniture.

The project gave students important practice with length, area, volume, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They also looked at the energy ratings of air conditioners to determine the best price over a period of time.

“It was great to win as it is our last year of primary school,” Adriana said, adding the best way to improve in maths is to “always ask for advice” and “to eat before tackling hard problems.”

Vincent recommended playing fun maths learning games Numerical Acumen and Prodigy.

Newman Selective

Principal Vella credited SCS’ Newman Selective Gifted Education Program to her students’ overall success in the MANSW competition.

The school’s Newman Selective team, led by Margaret Austin and Sharni Singh, has been working with small groups of maths students from each year group and submitted one entry per year group to the 2020 MANSW competition.

“Whilst it was rewarding to see four of our teams take first place, the real reward was the engagement and learning of each student,” school assistant principal, Linda Katsibras, said.

Ms Mae said: “I know that there were high levels of interest in this competition across NSW, so it is indeed a noteworthy achievement to have all four teams being so successful through the collective support of expert educators in their school.”

Our Lady of the Rosary Fairfield kindy student, Cindy Wang

Asked how to get better in maths, Cindy Wang said simply: “Listen to your teacher and learn.”

Newman Selective Gifted Education Program

• There are more than 60 Newman Selective Gifted Education Program schools across the Sydney Archdiocese supporting students from Kindergarten to Year 12
• The program is facilitated by staff with dedicated training in the field of gifted education
• Academics and psychologists specialising in gifted education contribute to the development and delivery of the program
• Students are assessed across a range of gifted domains to access the program
• Newman Selective students can also take part in programs in the creative arts, coding and computational skills, rich literature experiences, STEM (short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiatives and robotics


For more information about Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Primary School Fairfield or to enrol your child call (02) 9727 9064.