Tracie Duong is no ordinary 16-year-old. Though only in year 11, this young maths whiz from Mary Mackillop Catholic College at Fairfield is completing the first HSC examination for Mathematics Extension 2.
Known simply as MX2, it is the highest level mathematics course available to students.
While there was insufficitent demand to offer the MX2 course at her school, Tracie was invited to join the nearby all-boys Patrician Brothers’ College Fairfield Math class, where there is a class of five students.
“In the middle of Term 4 last year, my teacher said to me ‘Tracie, you can do Mathematics Extension 2 if, during sport, you go to St Pat’s.’ So I did it,” she said.
Tracie was among 102 students and 24 teachers from Sydney Catholic Schools who met last school holidays to build their problem solving and analytical skills in the lead-up to the first HSC examination for MX2 in October.
The all-day MX2 Student Forum was held at the University of Notre Dame in Sydneyhelped get students exam-ready for the new MX2 HSC course, as well as increase overall student participation in higher-level maths courses.
“This is where our partnership with University of Notre Dame is invaluable,” said Dr Christine Mae, a Kindergarten to Year 12 mathematics and numeracy specialist at Sydney Catholic Schools and the MX2 Student Forum organiser.
“Dr Alan McCarthy, the Discipline Head of Mathematics at the university, ran a workshop on vectors at our MX2 Student Forum, which has not previously been examined in the HSC,” she said.
SCS has been hosting advanced maths forums since 2018 and in that time participation ] rose by 30 per cent, from 2018 to 2019, and a futher 17 per cent this year- highlighting the growing popularity of the workshop.
“As we are trying to increase both participation and achievement in higher levels of mathematics, this turnout is a good early sign,” Dr Mae said.
The 2020 student cohort will be the first to sit HSC examinations for new Mathematics Advanced, Mathematics Extension 1 and MX2 courses, following the Stronger HSC Standards reforms from the NSW Education Standards Authority’s (NESA) first comprehensive review of the curriculum since 1989.
NESA Inspector of Mathematics and Numeracy and author of the new maths curriculum, Anna Wethereld, said the old Mathematics Extension 1 and 2 syllabuses were 37 and 39 years old respectively, and changes were introduced to ensure our education system is preparing students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.