Maths is boring? Not if you ask the Blije Bruintjes

— After a thrilling final, the Blije Bruintjes from the Sint-Franciscusinstituut in Brakel won the Wiskunnend Wiske maths competition. The Mathematics Department at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) organises the competition each year on Pi Day, 14 March. More than 2,000 pupils from the fifth and sixth years of secondary education in Flanders compete against each other by putting their maths knowledge to the test. They compete for their school’s honour and to take home the coveted Pi Trophy.

After three online editions of the event because of Covid, the classes who scored well in the preliminaries descended on the VUB campus in Brussels to contest the finals. Some 450 pupils from 42 classes were presented with challenging maths tasks to solve in groups. The Red Thread, the Spinning Spiders, the Shrewd Spy... By presenting maths in a different way than during traditional lessons at school, VUB wants to instil in pupils a love for science and mathematics. Can maths be fun? Count on it!

Pi podium

In first place were the Blije Bruintjes, who achieved a perfect score of 50/50.

Second place went to the Dansende Dino’s of Sint-Jan Berchmanscollege in Brussel. Team Hersenbrekende Hendriken from Leiepoort campus Sint-Hendrik in Deinze finished third.

The creator of the competition is world-renowned physicist and mathematician and VUB alumna Ingrid Daubechies. She came up with the contest for her alma mater.

"Mathematics is hugely useful and important for so many things in our society," she says. "That is why it’s important for teachers to instil a love of maths in our future generations. Not only by following the curriculum, but also by showing what’s happening outside that curriculum offering. Initiatives like Wiskunnend Wiske , in which pupils approach maths in a playful and creative way, really help!"

What do the winners themselves think?

"We came, we saw and we conquered again. It’s the second time in a row that our school has won. The three fifth-years from our little group will also participate next year. So who knows, maybe we will win again." And the plans of the three sixth-years? "We might study maths and physics next year."

The winning classes each went home with a prize package. On top of that, the Blije Bruintjes took home the coveted trophy.

About Ingrid Daubechies

Ingrid Daubechies is a VUB alumna with an impressive international career. She is a world authority on wavelets, which enable, among other things, image compression. A member of the US National Academy of Sciences since 1998, she was also the first female professor of mathematics at the prestigious Princeton University. She is currently a professor at Duke University in the US. She has earned numerous honours and was awarded the title of baroness by King Albert II in 2012. Recently, she added to her long list of awards with the prestigious Wolf Prize in Mathematics.

Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.

The World Needs You

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig - The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People , because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership , VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré , the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ’urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.