UPEI Math and Stats department introduces fun way to study

(L to R): Morgan Erskine, winner of the inaugural UPEI Integration Tournament stands next to runner-up Patrick Strongman. Rosalie O'Hara and Emma McDermott also pictured tied for third place. The UPEI Math and Statistics department introduced this tournament as a fun way for students to prepare for their final exams taking place this week.
It was definitely a more fun and exciting way to study for exams.
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Contact Person: Sheila Kerry, Media Relations and Communications Officer
Department: Integrated Communications
Phone: (902) 566-0760
Email: skerry@upei.ca
Posted on Monday, 14 April 2014

With final exams underway, the UPEI Mathematics and Statistics department introduced a fun way for students to prepare for their exams through its inaugural UPEI Integration Tournament that took place on April 2.

The top sixteen first-year advanced calculus students were selected to take part in an integration competition where the students went head-to-head in a single knockout battle to solve integral problems and determine the best integrator. Spectators were also welcomed and had the opportunity to complete the problems for practice, and take part in lighter math pop culture trivia.

Dr. Gordon MacDonald, professor of UPEI Mathematics and Statistics organized the event after learning of it being used as a fun teaching tool at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“I thought it was a great idea that may be of interest to students here at UPEI,” said MacDonald. “I had no idea that we would get such a great response from students, and because of this year’s success, we hope to make it an annual event.”

After 15 speed rounds amongst student competitors, Morgan Erskine was dubbed the winner, and earned the title of “The Magnifluent.” The title is in honour of Isaac Newton, one of the inventors of calculus who never used the common terms derivatives or integrals. Instead, he used the terms fluxions and fluents. Erskine took home the top prize of $100. Second-place, and a $50 prize, was awarded to Patrick Strongman, while Emma McDermott and Rosalie O’Hara finished in third place and claimed $25 prizes.

“I was actually very surprised to win the tournament as I wasn’t even confident that I would make it past the first round,” laughed Erskine. “It was definitely a more fun and exciting way to study for exams. I found it particularly beneficial, as it gave so many different examples of integrals that we may see on our final exam,” she added.

Erskine is double majoring in mathematics and computer science and hopes to one day find a career in one of her areas of study.

While many students agreed with Erskine, MacDonald added that these types of integrals were definitely aimed to be more challenging than those that may appear on the final exam.

“These problems challenge students to select the best strategy out of possibly five or six different routes. Students are forced to use their math skillsets developed in high school and university, to come up with the solution,” added MacDonald. “As the Integration Tournament showed, the best calculus students at UPEI can measure up with students from anywhere, even MIT.”

Special thanks goes to COWS Inc. for donating ice cream coupons, which were awarded as prizes to participants and spectators during the event’s trivia.