Gifted maths student Tracie Duong, 16, was among 102 students and 24 teachers from Sydney Catholic schools to give up a day of their school holidays to build their problem solving and analytical skills in the lead-up to the new Mathematics HSC.

St Clare's College Waverley Year 12 student, Janice Nyoto

“I want to be an engineer, probably mechanical. I love maths and science,” forum attendee Janice Nyoto, a Year 12 student at St Clare’s College Waverley, said. Photo: Kitty Beale

Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) organised the all-day Mathematics Extension 2 (MX2) Student Forum at the University of Notre Dame Australia in Sydney both to help get students exam-ready for the new Advanced Mathematics HSC, as well as to help increase overall student participation in higher-level maths courses.

For Tracie, it was a no-brainer to take up the opportunity. She is already used to putting in some hard yards to achieve her dream of being a civil engineer.

“In the middle of Term 4 last year, my teacher said to me ‘Tracie, you can do Mathematics Extension 2 if, during sport, you go to St Pat’s.’ So I did it,” said Tracie who is currently in Year 11 at all-girls secondary school Mary Mackillop Catholic College Wakeley.

Tracie’s school does not offer the maths course but nearby all-boys secondary school Patrician Brothers’ College Fairfield, more commonly referred to as St Pat’s, does offer it.

Mathematics Extension 2 is the highest level mathematics course for students with a special interest and ability in mathematics and students will sit their HSC exam on 26 October.

MX2 Student Forum

NSW Educational Standards Authority (NESA) Inspector Mathematics and Numeracy, Anna Wethereld, addresses maths students

NESA’s Anna Wethereld addresses Sydney Catholic Schools’ maths students.

“This is where our partnership with University of Notre Dame is invaluable,” said MX2 Student Forum organiser, Dr Christine Mae, the Education Officer Mathematics and Numeracy K-12 Teaching and Learning at SCS.

Experts, including NESA Inspector Mathematics and Numeracy and author of the new maths curriculum, Anna Wethereld, provided MX2 participants with insights into ways of thinking when solving complex maths problems.

“Dr Alan McCarthy, the Discipline Head of Mathematics at the university, ran a workshop on vectors at our MX2 Student Forum, which has not previously been examined in the Mathematics HSC,” Dr Mae said.

According to the NESA website, knowledge of vectors enables the understanding of objects in two and three dimensions and ways in which this behaviour can be expressed, including the consideration of position, location and movement.

Dr Alan McCarthy, Discipline Head of Mathematics at University of Notre Dame Australia in Sydney

Dr Alan McCarthy gave a presentation on vectors at the MX2 Student Forum. Photo: Kitty Beale

SCS has been hosting advanced maths forums since 2018 and in that time organisers have seen course participation rise by 30 per cent, from 2018 to 2019.

Dr Mae said the percentage of participating students attaining an E4 (the highest band) in the Mathematics HSC has doubled over that period. Forum participation in 2020 is up 17 per cent on 2019 figures, she added.

“As we are trying to increase both participation and achievement in higher levels of mathematics, this turnout is a good early sign,” Dr Mae said.

Holy Spirit Catholic College Lakemba Year 12 students Nicolas Al-Hazzouri and Jamie Nguyen

Holy Spirit Catholic College Lakemba Year 12 students Nicolas Al-Hazzouri and Jamie Nguyen at the MX2 Student Forum. Photo: Kitty Beale

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