The National Finals of the MATHletes Challenge 2014 will take place Saturday, 24 May, in the CHQ Building in the IFSC in Dublin. Over 3,000 Irish students invested a staggering 900,000 minutes of their time on the MATHletes Challenge just to get a chance to get to the finals.  Winnowed down to 500 for the semifinals that were held across Ireland on 10 May, the 150 finalists have been preparing for the final face-off since semifinal winners were announced on 14 May.

Launched at the beginning of February as the brainchild of tech entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan of SOSventures and Department of Education and Skills Junior Minister Ciaran Cannon, MATHletes uses the global leader in free online STEM education – the Khan Academy – to improve the overall standard of Ireland’s math students.

With no disrespect to those who pour out their heart and sweat and blood onto the pitch, these kids who’ve made it this far in Mathletes have shown a tremendous amount of guts and determination in throwing themselves with abandon into their academics,” said Sean O’Sullivan.  “Besides the character building spirit of competition and drive that has got them here, this is a story of renewal of academic excellence in Maths in Ireland.”

Out of the 3,000 students from 5th and 6th class in the junior cycle and 1st, 2nd and 3rd years in the senior cycle who have taken part in the MATHletes Challenge 2014, 150 have qualified for the National Finals this Saturday, having come through as a top performer in the MATHletes Challenge Provincial Finals. The finalists will now compete for the title of MATHletes Challenge National Champion 2014 as well as €20,000 in prizes.

Ireland is languishing in the middle of the European pack when it comes to the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths),” said O’Sullivan. “The introduction of the Khan Academy to Irish students through the MATHletes Challenge is just one part of an overall strategy to improve the standard of Irish students in maths. By developing a stronger foundation in maths, Irish students will be well-equipped with key skills that are required to take up jobs in export-led high-tech that are so desperatedly looking for talent.

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