Does Math Really Make Sense?

Does Math Really Make Sense?

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By: Alyssa Matheson

There’s nothing more exciting than sitting in a silent conference room for two hours; unless  you’re working on increasingly difficult math problems at the same time.


On November 26, the Waterloo Senior and Intermediate math contests were held at CKSS. A handful of eager math students – or perhaps just those who wanted to miss periods 2 and 3 – arrived hoping to show that their math skills were even sharper than their pencils.


When I arrived on the scene, I was there not as a reporter, but as an excited math student who is known to comment on how “nice” an algebraic expression is, or how “beautiful” a function can look when it’s solved. One of my favourite things about math is how you can take something that looks impossible, and use rules to simplify it until it makes perfect sense. That is, if you understand the question.


Now, I don’t want to run around placing the blame on someone else; but some of the questions in the contest were not worded very clearly. I’m not saying that you have to minor in English or anything to write math questions, but it would be nice if they would make sense for the intended audience (if the author of the contest was an English major, I apologize for my misconception; but seriously, write better questions).


Although I found some of the questions made absolutely no sense due to their wording, there were other students who attributed their problems to the actual source, “the questions weren’t written badly, they were just hard,” said a grade 12 student.
There is a chance that it may have been that my math skills were the issue rather than the wording of the questions, but what even is an “eventually periodic” function? If anyone has any idea, I’d like to know, because it’s not the fact that I didn’t understand the question during the contest that bugs me, but the fact that I still don’t understand it now.


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