Extending mathematical expertise

From February to November this year, each Wednesday afternoon when classes were over for the day, six Year 12 Melbourne Grammar School students gathered to study a University-level mathematics subject. Taught by Melbourne Grammar School teacher, Ms Alle Goureeve, the subject was part of the University of Melbourne Extension Programme (UMEP). 

UMEP offers talented students the opportunity to study a range of first year University subjects and get credit for this in their ATAR. “In most other schools, students study four VCE subjects and a UMEP subject during Year 12,” explains Ms Goureeve. “At Melbourne Grammar, we normally require our students to study UMEP subjects on top of five VCE subjects, so the workload is much higher. It also means that the impact on their ATAR is significantly reduced.”

So, why take this on? “It’s the challenge that makes this fun,” explains Stanley Zhu, Australian Mathematical Olympiad medallist in 2017 and 2018. 

“I find that, sometimes, the approach to a lot of mathematical questions is formulaic and it can be relatively easy to find the solution if you’ve done enough questions,” says William Miao. “The UMEP subject is not so reliant on that. It is more about using what you know to build more knowledge. There is not always a ‘blueprint’ to resolving problems.”

“The boys have a distinct advantage because they  genuinely enjoy what they do,” says Ms Goureeve. “However, they have also worked incredibly hard. I am  very proud of them.” And their hard work has certainly paid off. All six students were awarded either First-Class or Second-Class Honours for their Semester 1 subject, with the highest score being 92%.*

For Thomas Sutherland, Mathematics offers him a way to stretch his mind. “I like Maths because you can be creative in finding different ways to solve a problem but, at the same time, there are also very rigid, logical steps that you have to take to reach the end,” says Thomas. “I enjoy the two different types of thinking involved.” The boys credit Ms Goureeve with their success.  

“Ms Goureeve is obviously a highly skilled mathematician,” says Enoch Fan. “But she has also given us a lot of insightful advice and support well beyond what you would normally expect.” “We would not have achieved what we have without her effort and dedication,” adds Dimitri Zoran. 

The boys expect that their Mathematical studies will aid future professions. For example, Jackson Qui intends on studying Computer Science next year, with a view to possibly commencing a career related to machine learning (artificial intelligence). “Mathematics forms a strong base for many careers,” he explains.

*Semester 2 results were not available at the time of publication.

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