Oxford Calling

By | Children

By Luca Giannini – 11 years

From primary school to Oxford University, in a matter of weeks, is a pretty awesome achievement.  So when two boys in my school year, at Sutton Grammar, were chosen to be in that enviable position, I knew I had to tell their story.  Oliver Karlsson and Rory Orsborn, are both 11-years old, and were selected from the entire year, as the highest scoring students in the Bebras Challenge; both sailing their way to an impressive 100% score in the first round.  They’ve proven they’re amongst the smartest and quickest brains in the UK – so they’re on their way to Oxford University to pitch their skills against other kids across the nation, who scored super-marks in the first round of the challenge.  Joining them from my school is the older boys Anuraag Datta, Oskar Edwards and Jake Thakur.

The Bebras Challenge, is an international competition set-up by Oxford University, running across x30 countries.  Challenging kids in their computational thinking, the competition involves solution-solving techniques and skills that grown-up software engineers use to write apps and programs (pretty smart hey!)  Kids are thrown complex tasks and asked to break them down into simpler components, pattern recognition, algorithm design and patterns.  Tough brain benders get the muscles of the grey matter churning and chugging.

With over 200,000 students taking part each year, this challenge is mighty; to be chosen as one of the 200 to take the pilgrimage to Oxford University is a fantastic accolade.  And I know five of them; how cool is this! Let us see what Oskar, Anuraag, Rory and Oliver have to say about their experiences to date and their excitement for the future:

How do you feel about getting through to the Top 200 going to Oxford University?

Oskar: ‘On one side, I’m incredibly happy and excited to go to Oxford to learn and compete.  However, there is a lot of pressure to succeed in the second stage and I’ve found no way of revising for the test. I feel as if I might under-achieve.’

Anuraag: ‘Ecstatic! I’ve made it through to the second round at Oxford!’

Rory: ‘I’m excited to be one of the few people fortunate enough to be invited.’

How will  you prepare for the next round?

Oskar: Bebras have fewer resources for the second stage preparation than in the first, so I believe that practising for general solution-solving situations is more effective than searching for past questions.  I will work hard in computer science as I feel help improve my skills.

Anuraag: ‘I realised there are limited resources at all to help prepare for the next round.  I have turned to my friends, who went to Oxford two years ago…I started preparing using their basic guidelines.’

Do you have any top tactics up your sleeve?

Oskar:  The closest thing I have to a strategy is to prioritise easier questions, aiming to ease myself into the harder ones.

Oliver: ” I will aim to think logically and do my best.’

How will you feel if you win this challenge?

Oskar: Delighted!  And I’d be slightly confused.  I believe even if I do well in this challenge, there may be people who pour countless hours into revision and preparation, and while I do plan to practise, I rather avoid the challenge to engulf my life.  In addition, there is returning competitors who are at an advantage, which I am unable to match.  Yet, if after all this, I do win, I will be overjoyed at the victory!

Oliver: ‘ I will feel brilliant!  It would be a great achievement.’

Anuraag: ‘Winning the challenge may be a great conclusion to a fulfilling journey; one which taught me how to solve challenges and think outside the box.’

Rory: ‘To be one of the best of my age group, out of the whole of England, would be incredible!’ 

I’m proud of my Sutton Grammar peers, and I want them to know we are all supporting them in this incredible journey.  To find out more about the Bebras Challenge check out: http://www.bebras.uk.  Who knows, it may be you buying a ticket to Oxford University next year!

(and mighty thanks to Mr Will Humphries for his help in pulling this feature together, especially for his photographic skills).

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