A young Irish maths team which included a Kildare student did not win medals at a world maths competition but they finished nine places higher this year than in 2011.
18 year old Celbridge resident Adam Connolly, a student at Leixlip’s Colaiste Chiaran, is not long home from South America, after a hectic month away.
First he took a trip to Zambia with the Leixlip school’s twinning project and had barely landed on Irish soil on his return when he headed off the Argentina with an Irish team which competed against a hundred other countries.
The occasion was the International Mathematical Olympiad, which ran from 6-19 July.
Adam gained eleven A grades in his Junior Cert but maths is his “biggest interest”.
Adam, son of Sandra and Michael, the latter an engineer working with Intel, from Castlevillage in Celbridge, is be going into his sixth year Leaving Cert class. His mathematical abilities earned him plaudits and a place on the five person Irish team.
Along with a representative, Adam, who has “trained” with academics in NUI Maynooth, among others, headed to Buenos Aires via Amsterdam and then took a four hour bus journey to Mar Del Plata.
He spent two weeks in the country of the pampas or Argentinian grass lands and this included two days of competitive exams. “We did fairly well. Ireland has been participating only for the last twenty years and we are catching up on our training methods,” he said.
The Irish team came in 75th position, which was nine places higher than the previous year.
Adam said the participating USA team trained for a year in advance.
The Kildare student’s ambition following graduation from Colaiste Chiarain is to study maths and he is interested in the academic life after that. “My first choice of university is Cambridge. If not that Trinity or Maynooth,” he said.
In 2011, Adam took part in the EU Science Olympiad in the Czech Republic.
The team for that was selected from the top 300 performers in the Junior Cert and a test. He could pick one of three subjects and took physics, winning a gold.
The event itself was a four and a half exam with only three questions. “Very difficult,” is how he summed up the experience.
Two of the students who received 9A1s in this year’s Leaving Cert also attended that Science Olympiad.
This year he also took part in a Linguistic Olympiad, which was basically about logic.
The competitors were shown the text of an obscure language and asked to identify grammatical patterns.
It is not everybody’s cup of tea but hopefully his cup of points will be brimming this time next year when he seeks an academic home to pursue his mathematical dreams.
Adam has one sister, Meghan, who is training to be a primary school teacher.
- Henry Bauress