MTQ and beyond

The award ceremony is behind us, the certificates have been presented at Assembly and the projects have been returned to their owners; another year of MTQ (Maths Talent Quest) has been completed. Once again, we have been awarded with an Outstanding School Award, the 13th in the last 15 years!

But what has been gained, other than another certificate to proudly hang on our wall? What have the participants been left with, other than a piece of paper acknowledging their effort in the production of their project?

Many of you intimately know the MTQ process, having been through it with your own child, but there are many in the community who haven’t had to ‘assist’ their child, whether it has been to supply materials, organise working ‘parties’ with friends, or listen to the questions, data, and hypotheses from your budding mathematician.

For those not familiar with it, you may ask, what is MTQ? According to the official Mathematical Association of Victoria website:

‘The focus of the Maths Talent Quest is on the process of mathematical investigations…(it) aims to promote interest in mathematics and foster positive attitudes amongst students, teachers and parents…to investigate mathematics on an individual, group or class basis with the opportunity to have fun exploring mathematics in real life situations….Students are typically required to research, design, explore, create, question, articulate, communicate, think, solve problems, collaborate and communicate whilst completing their MTQ projects…’

It is an activity that perfectly aligns with our Positive Learner Attributes.

Imagination, Curiosity and Reflection from our Thinking domain: Students select their own area of interest and use their curiosity and imagination to come up with questions that they wish to research. They engage in reflection throughout the process, keeping journals and reflecting on the investigation that they undertake.

Communication, Connectedness and Collaboration from the Relationship domain: Articulating their investigation and the collecting of data, classifying, simplifying, abstracting, conjecturing, predicting, justifying, proving, generalising and hypothesising; all of these aspects of their investigation form part of the communicating that they undertake. All of these activities also form part of collaborating with peers, teachers and family members along the journey. They connect with a variety of community members and then to broader communities when their hard work is judged by members of the education community from around the State, and if found worthy, around the Nation.

Knowledge, Courage and Resilience from the Self-Management domain are also definitely part of the mix: ‘The important difference between a mathematics investigation and a mathematics problem-solving task is that students need to formulate their own questions from a given situation. By formulating their own questions, students give their teachers a clear indication of their level of knowledge and understanding of their chosen topic.’

Managing their time, researching and communicating their results requires determination, courage and resilience. They require a large degree of self-motivation and self-management to complete their project and present their findings.

Developing our children into wise, independent, motivated learners and setting them up for a bright and successful future is the basis of everything that we undertake. MTQ is just one small contribution to this end, and obviously we must be doing something right if we keep being acknowledged as an ‘outstanding school’. So next time Johnny wants to investigate ‘Runny Nose: the Maths of a Tissue Box’ and Janey wants to research ‘How Many Cookies Do I Need to Sell to Buy a Puppy?’, quietly support their effort, as their gain won’t only be of a mathematical nature but will also be a development of life skills that will enable a successful after school future.

Marg Adams
Deputy Head of Junior School Donvale