The chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry thinks that the standard of mathematics amongst students heading off to university to pursue science degrees in the UK is poor in comparison to that in countries like China.
To back up his point, the RSC website has reproduced a question from a Chinese university entrance exam and is offering a fairly decent cash prize (500 GBP) to tempt people to send in their answers – the deadline is noon today (London time), so sorry for the short notice. The BBC has even covered this story, and for comparison, shows a question that is used in the first year at a UK university to test the mathematics ability of students.
Now, the UK question is something I was doing at school when I was about 10 (this is a rough guess, it could be plus or minus a few years). Admittedly that was a while ago, but the human race hasn’t gotten that much more stupid since – has it?
As for the Chinese question… well, I spent a certain amount of time last night (I’m embarrassed to give exact details) with pencil and paper trying to figure out the answers. I’ve got some ‘answers’, but let’s just say I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if they are not altogether correct – I might confess when the real answers get posted.
Have a go – see how you do… and let me know!
UPDATE – THE QUESTION IS NO LONGER ON THE RSC WEBSITE, BUT CAN BE FOUND HERE*
Stuart Cantrill (Associate Editor, Nature Nanotechnology)