Amazing Amber’s Mathematical First for Pymble

Amazing Amber’s Mathematical First for Pymble

Amber Li (Year 10) has been selected to represent Australia at the European Girls Mathematical Olympiad in Tskaltubo, Georgia in April; the first time a Pymble student has been selected to compete at this esteemed event. 

The European Girls Mathematical Olympiad first started in 2012 and is considered the most prestigious mathematics competition for girls. 

The competition consists of two exam-style papers on separate days, each with three problems to be completed in four and a half hours. Each participating country sends a team of four students, with a combined total of about 200 students competing against each other. 

Whilst Amber is unsure exactly what type of problems she will be solving over the course of the two days, she has a general idea of the topics she’ll need to know like the back of her hand in order to succeed against some of the world’s best young mathematicians. 

Amber says, however, that applying what she knows will be more important than recalling it. 

“Olympiad problems sort of have the flavour of mathematical puzzles, where the knowledge needed is not too far beyond what’s learned in school, such as geometry, algebra, combinatorics and number theory,” says Amber. 

“But the hard part is applying the knowledge and finding the solution pathway to the problem. It’s good practice for logical and creative thinking.” 

Amber’s passion for mathematics is clear for all to see, as you would expect from someone chosen to represent her nation out of hundreds of thousands of her peers. 

“I love the satisfaction of solving a problem when everything starts to make sense. Also, sometimes you prove some really cool patterns that seem like coincidences, but are actually always true,” says Amber. 

“For example, if you take a prime number p, and raise any number to the power of p-1, the result will have a remainder of 0 or 1 when you divide by the prime p.” 

Got it? Got it. 

In the lead up to the competition, Amber says she will be putting her head down, completing past papers and reviewing important topics so they are front of mind come April. 

“I’ll be doing lots of practice problems from various Olympiad competitions and reviewing some of the things I’ve learned and problems I’ve done before. I’ll also be doing a few mock exams to get faster and more consistent at problem solving,” says Amber. 

Mrs Catrina Kerr, Head of Learning Area – Mathematics says that Amber’s hard work and commitment was the reason behind her well-deserved selection for the Australian team. 

“Amber has competed in a range of competitions and attended several training camps to achieve this prestigious and significant position,” says Kerr. 

“This is the first time that Pymble has had a student selected in this capacity and we are very proud of her amazing ingenuity, focus, tenacity and determination.” 

Amber’s relentless hunger for numbers has even earned her a humorous nickname from Mrs Kerr. 

“I call Amber my little Velociraptor because as soon as she latches onto an idea that she is unfamiliar with, she seeks knowledge as if it were a matter of life or death,” says Kerr. 

“Her need to know is all consuming. She is driven towards achieving her goal and it is a privilege to help her in any way to achieve them. 

“We wish her every success in the competition,” says Kerr.