Maths is boring? Not if you ask the Blije Bruintjes

Maths is boring? Not if you ask the Blije Bruintjes

VUB celebrates Pi Day with Wiskunnend Wiske maths contest

Wednesday 15 March 2023 — After a thrilling final, the Blije Bruintjes from the Sint-Franciscusinstituut in Brakel won the Wiskunnend Wiske maths competition. The Mathematics Department at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) organises the competition each year on Pi Day, 14 March. More than 2,000 pupils from the fifth and sixth years of secondary education in Flanders compete against each other by putting their maths knowledge to the test. They compete for their school’s honour and to take home the coveted Pi Trophy.

After three online editions of the event because of Covid, the classes who scored well in the preliminaries descended on the VUB campus in Brussels to contest the finals. Some 450 pupils from 42 classes were presented with challenging maths tasks to solve in groups. The Red Thread, the Spinning Spiders, the Shrewd Spy… By presenting maths in a different way than during traditional lessons at school, VUB wants to instil in pupils a love for science and mathematics. Can maths be fun? Count on it!

Pi podium

In first place were the Blije Bruintjes, who achieved a perfect score of 50/50.

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Second place went to the Dansende Dino’s of Sint-Jan Berchmanscollege in Brussel. Team Hersenbrekende Hendriken from Leiepoort campus Sint-Hendrik in Deinze finished third.

The creator of the competition is world-renowned physicist and mathematician and VUB alumna Ingrid Daubechies. She came up with the contest for her alma mater.

“Mathematics is hugely useful and important for so many things in our society,” she says. “That is why it’s important for teachers to instil a love of maths in our future generations. Not only by following the curriculum, but also by showing what’s happening outside that curriculum offering. Initiatives like Wiskunnend Wiske, in which pupils approach maths in a playful and creative way, really help!”

What do the winners themselves think?

“We came, we saw and we conquered again. It’s the second time in a row that our school has won. The three fifth-years from our little group will also participate next year. So who knows, maybe we will win again.” And the plans of the three sixth-years? "We might study maths and physics next year."

The winning classes each went home with a prize package. On top of that, the Blije Bruintjes took home the coveted trophy.

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About Ingrid Daubechies

Ingrid Daubechies is a VUB alumna with an impressive international career. She is a world authority on wavelets, which enable, among other things, image compression. A member of the US National Academy of Sciences since 1998, she was also the first female professor of mathematics at the prestigious Princeton University. She is currently a professor at Duke University in the US. She has earned numerous honours and was awarded the title of baroness by King Albert II in 2012. Recently, she added to her long list of awards with the prestigious Wolf Prize in Mathematics.

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