Representing New Zealand at problem solving

William Han. Times photo Wayne Martin

A lot of perseverance is needed to solve some of the toughest problems.

Macleans College student William Han equates perseverance to resolutely spending hours on end solving mathematical problem, without giving up.

It’s his strong ability to keep going relentlessly, trying different methods to find the right solutions to a problem that paid off.

The 15-year-old has made it to the national team representing New Zealand at the International Maths Olympiad (IMO) at Rio de Janerio, Brazil, in July.

“It’s not unusual for me to spend 3-4 hours on a problem and not find a solution,” says the Year 11 student.

“I try a whole lot of different methods. And I find that failure to solve a problem helps me to learn more about what I should try the next time.

“The best way to improve is to go through the struggle to solve problems.”

It was only because of his childhood friend Andrew Chen, who studies at St Kentigern College, that he first got to know about it last year and started putting in the hard yards to prepare for it.

After 24 students qualified from schools all over New Zealand, they sat some more tests where the number of students first filtered down to 12 and then to the final six.

William is pleased that his friend Andrew is also part of the team.

“This is the second time Andrew is representing New Zealand. He was selected last year as well,” he explains.

On July 14, the team will head to Brazil for the IMO where students representing 100 countries will compete for the top spot.

William, who has had a good understanding of maths from a very young age, says the competition at the international level is going to be very tough. But he doesn’t let it bother him too much.

“If I wanted it easy I wouldn’t be here representing New Zealand. I would have given up a long time ago.”