Dhofar University Successfully Organizes Sixth High School Mathematics Competition
The Department of Mathematics and Sciences at Dhofar University conducted the Sixth High School Mathematics Competition on Thursday, November 9, 2023. This unique event aimed to identify and recognize mathematical talents among high school students in Salalah. The series of events began in 2018 and has received an overwhelming response in each of the six events held so far. The annual competitions are held under the patronage of Dr. Khalid Muslem Al Mashikhi, the Dean of the College of Arts and Applied Sciences, and organized by the Department of Mathematics and Sciences. Dhofar University takes pride in encouraging such activities that benefit the local community.
The main goal of the competition is to encourage creative mathematical thinking, engage students of all levels with challenging mathematics problems, and provide an opportunity for friendly competition among mathematics students and schools. Invitations were sent to schools to send one team of four students along with one or two supervisors. Twenty-six schools participated in the competition, including six private schools and twenty public schools. There was a strong representation from female students, accounting for 37.5% of the total number of participants.
The half-day event included several activities. The teams and their supervisors were welcomed, and as per tradition, the students actively participated in conducting the event. They delivered a welcome talk and presentations on Dhofar University and the Department of Mathematics and Sciences. In their presentations, they explained the importance of mathematics, known as the queen of the sciences, and the advantages of majoring in mathematics. The students also provided details about the competition and other activities during the event. The main part of the event was a one-hour mathematics written examination, during which the supervisors of the twenty-six teams had one-on-one interactions with the members of the Department of Mathematics and Sciences. They shared their teaching experiences and the significance of mathematics competitions and Olympiads.
The one-hour written exam consisted of twenty multiple-choice questions covering topics such as algebra, geometry, elementary number theory, trigonometry, and statistics. The questions were different from the regular school curriculum, with varying difficulties that challenged the students to think differently in order to arrive at the solutions. Naturally, no student scored full marks.
After the written exam, the teams had a tour of a portion of the University Campus. Following the campus tour, the teams gathered in a lecture hall where a Mathematics Puzzle Competition was conducted, offering prizes. This allowed the teams and the audience to witness the process of solving mathematical puzzles in action.
While the teams were touring the campus and enjoying refreshments, part of the organizing team was busy grading the mathematics competition. The grading process was completed efficiently, and winners were announced in the categories of individual performance and school performance.
The prize distribution was as follows: based on the combined scores of the twenty-six teams, two best schools were selected from the six private schools, and three best schools were selected from the twenty public schools. The top two private schools were Indian School Salalah (First) and Pakistan School Salalah (Second). The top three public schools were Dhofar School for boys (First), Shihait School for girls (Second), and AL-Saidia school (Third). The top two students from the private schools, based on their scores in the individual written exam, were Aarnav Gupta (First, Indian School Salalah) and Vidula Mahesh Rao (Second, Indian School Salalah). The top three students from the public schools, based on their scores in the individual written exam, were Amir Osama (First, Sharbathat), Amna Mohamed Ali Al Mashani (Second, Shihit School), and Abdullah Ahmed Fadhel Ba Alawi (Third, Dhofar School for boys). The closing ceremony was graced by Professor Amer bin Ali Al-Rawas, the Vice-Chancellor of Dhofar University, Dr. Syed Ahsan Jamil, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Dhofar University, Professor Muhammad Asif Gondal, the Director of Research. The awards were presented by Professor Amer bin Ali Al-Rawas, Dr. Syed Ahsan Jamil, Dr. Khalid Muslem Al Mashikhi, the Dean of the College of Arts and Applied Sciences, and Dr. Inayatur Rehman, the Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Sciences. All participants were given a ‘Certificate of Participation’.
The event was spearheaded by the tireless efforts of Dr. Taoufik Ben Jabeur and his team from the Department of Mathematics and Sciences. The event also enjoyed the diligent support of the department’s secretary, Ms. Hajer Ali Mohammed Shanfari. The enthusiastic support of student volunteers is a hallmark of the Dhofar University tradition. The students involved are Dalal Saif Said AL Ghafri, Al Yamama Harib Salim Al-Rawahi, and Retaj Khamis Hamed Khamis Al-Baridi (their consent and approvals from the authorities may be required). The students’participation included a reference to the Persian mathematician, Jamshid al-Kashi (1380-1429), and his works, particularly the “law of cosines,” which is now part of high school trigonometry.
The mathematics competition successfully identified gifted students, and now it is time to nurture their talent. School teachers can play a crucial role in this endeavor through the competition. Ideally, such students should receive further training. A Nurture Program is currently under discussion, which will include classes by Dhofar University staff in various areas of mathematics. Since 2019, the Department of Mathematics and Sciences at Dhofar University has also been conducting the Annual High School Science Fair Competitions, and the fifth one is scheduled to be held in March 2024 or the spring of 2024.