Battle math: 150 students to compete for €20k in prizes

22 May 2014

Minister for Training and Skills Ciaran Cannon, TD (left), with tech entrepreneur Sean O'Sullivan

After some 3,000 Irish students invested 900,000 minutes of their time on the MATHletes Challenge this year, the final 150 will take part in the National Finals this weekend in Dublin.

The National Finals of the MATHletes Challenge 2014 will take place Saturday, 24 May, in the CHQ Building in the IFSC in Dublin.

Launched at the beginning of February as the brainchild of tech entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan of SOSventures and Ciaran Cannon, TD, Minister for Training and Skills at the Department of Education and Skills, MATHletes uses a global leader in free online STEM education, the Khan Academy, to improve the overall standard of Ireland’s math students.

“With no disrespect to those who pour out their heart and sweat and blood onto the pitch, these kids who’ve made it this far in MATHletes have shown a tremendous amount of guts and determination in throwing themselves with abandon into their academics,” O’Sullivan said. 

“Besides the character-building spirit of competition and drive that has got them here, this is a story of renewal of academic excellence in maths in Ireland.”

Yes we Khan!

Out of the 3,000 students from fifth and sixth class in the junior cycle and first, second and third years in the senior cycle who have taken part in the MATHletes Challenge 2014, 150 have qualified for the National Finals this Saturday, having come through as a top performer in the MATHletes Challenge Provincial Finals.

The finalists will now compete for the title of MATHletes Challenge National Champion 2014 as well as €20,000 in prizes.

“Ireland is languishing in the middle of the European pack when it comes to the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects,” said O’Sullivan.

“The introduction of the Khan Academy to Irish students through the MATHletes Challenge is just one part of an overall strategy to improve the standard of Irish students in maths. By developing a stronger foundation in maths, Irish students will be well equipped with key skills that are required to take up jobs in export-led high-tech that are so desperately looking for talent.”  

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years