Top young maths minds put kindness to the test

Published:

Kawana Waters State College students Ben Fowler, Lucas Biava-Bishop and Dan Breytenbach.

Can kindness spread like a virus? Some of Queensland’s best young mathematicians recently took up the challenge of finding out by competing in USC’s Maths Modelling Challenge.

Year 9 and 10 students from more than 20 high schools – from as far as Mareeba in North Queensland to Mansfield in Brisbane – used the power of maths to solve three real-world scenarios devised by USC maths and science academics.

Students had to either model the local and global impact of small acts of kindness on mental health, determine the associated CO2 emissions of posting a selfie each day on a social media platform, or measure the environmental impacts of the daily school drop-off and pick-up.

The three winning teams were from Kawana Waters State College, Maryborough’s St Mary’s College and Urangan State High School in Hervey Bay. Teams from Burnside State High School, Bayside Christian College and Mansfield State High School received highly commended awards.

Challenge judge, USC physicist Dr Kathryn Broadhouse, said the “Mathematics of Kindness” category was based on the theory that kindness was contagious and could spread exponentially.

“The simple answer that most teams came up with was that it will take at least 31 days for all seven billion people in the world to receive an act of kindness from one random interaction,” Dr Broadhouse said.

The category was won by St Mary’s College students Sky Neale, Cammie Burridge and Kate Bensted who calculated the number of random acts of kindness students at their school would have to carry out before it spread like a virus across the globe.

“This team impressed the judges by taking the concept to a whole new level and applying more complex modelling to reflect realistic interactions and social connections and the effect this would have on the projected timeline,” Dr Broadhouse said.

The ”Social Media Carbon Footprint” scenario category was won by Urangan State High School students Seb Clarke, Jacob Killer and Ryan Wheatley.

They used modelling to determine how much of Australia’s annual CO2 emissions was generated from users each posting a single selfie per day on a social media platform.
 
A team from Kawana Waters State College devised modelling to find a solution to reduce car congestion, driver frustration and the noise and air pollution caused by the daily school drop-off and pick-up to win the “School Run” category.

Lucas Biava-Bishop, Ben Fowler and Daniel Breytenbach impressed the judges with their project, which measured the environmental benefits of a proposed “Cycle to School” initiative.
 
Marina Fitzpatrick from USC’s School of Science and Engineering said the challenge, delivered online this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, was designed by USC to inspire the next generation of leaders in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
 
“The scenarios chosen for the competition underpin the ethos that STEM has applications across the curriculum and beyond the classroom, and challenge students to use STEM in solving everyday, real-life problems,” she said.

As part of the program, all participating schools received online presentations on maths modelling and its use in the real world from USC mathematicians and researchers, as well as tips on how to approach the challenge criteria.

Students then worked in small groups to develop, model and present their findings, with the top model from each school submitted online to USC STEM judges.


St Mary's College students Cammie Burridge, Kate Bensted and Sky Neal

 
Lifestyle Technology & Communications Teenagers & Young Adults University & TAFE
Social:   

University Of The Sunshine Coast : View Full Profile
90 Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs
07 5430 1234
University Of The Sunshine Coast
Showing 10+ recent articles for this business
USC social media class trends at Aus/NZ awards 14 October 2020 | The likes and positive comments are flowing for USC’s Social Media degree program after it gained high recognition at the 2020 Australian and New Zealand Social Media Marketing Awards. More information...
83% bushfire survival of endangered macadamia: USC research 01 October 2020 | USC-led research in Bulburin National Park, between Bundaberg and Gladstone, has recorded 83 percent survival of the wild population of an endangered native macadamia nut plant, following the 2019-20 summer... More information...
Research finds new way to help frail older people 30 September 2020 | A $6.9 million global research project involving USC as the only Australian partner has developed a new monitoring and intervention system to slow or even reverse the progression of frailty among older adults. More information...
Blue carbon focus for ocean-loving world champion 24 September 2020 | The coronavirus pandemic may have upset world champion stand-up paddleboarder Brianna Orams’ plans to compete in the sport’s 2020 Euro Tour – but the USC Environmental Science student refuses to see it as a... More information...
CIDSEL facilitates leadership conference for future diplomats 26 September 2020 | More than 40 young Australian university students from across the country have been selected to participate in the United States Embassy Student Leadership Program from August to December 2020. More information...
Report highlights USC’s financial benefit to regions 24 September 2020 | The significant financial impact that USC is having on its communities has been highlighted in a new report released today by the Regional Universities Network (RUN). More information...
Collateral damage: Deadly funnel-web spider toxin did not evolve to kill humans 22 September 2020 | While funnel-web spider bites in Australia can be deadly, a scientist from USC Australia has helped discover that human deaths are simply an unfortunate side-effect of the spider’s strong self-defence system. More information...
Jess designs a career that’s dedicated to dogs 21 September 2020 | Architectural designer Jess Johnson had a different career switch in mind when she decided to study Animal Ecology at USC – until she met a koala-detection dog named Bear and his other canine companions. More information...
USC students gain early start to media careers 17 September 2020 | Two USC Journalism students who recently secured full-time reporting jobs in a challenging media landscape say the secret to their success was embracing every opportunity to gain real-life skills through their... More information...
Time is right to explore uni options with free course 17 September 2020 | With many people reassessing their career goals due to COVID-19, USC is offering a free course for those wanting to sample higher education and explore their study opportunities. More information...


comments powered by Disqus

All articles submitted by third parties or written by My Sunshine Coast come under our Disclaimer / Terms of Service