Turning into Human Calculators - The New Indian Express

Turning into Human Calculators

Published: 02nd December 2013 11:18 AM

Last Updated: 02nd December 2013 11:18 AM

The abacus may remind one of old mathematicians burning the midnight oil to calculate the day’s spending, but as many 3000 students took to the device to compete in the tenth edition of the National Abacus and Mental Arithmetic Competition organised by SIP Academy of India. Seated at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre, the general mood was very competitive, but healthy competition at that. Armed with the abacus, they couldn’t wait to get started with the competition.

Coming from across country, children between the ages of four and 16 competed with each other to be the ultimate mental math champ, who will go on to represent the country at similar competitions internationally.

Before they began, certified brain gym instructor Kelvin Tham and founder of SIP Malaysia put the children through a series of exercises to help their brain perform better during the competition.

The day-long competition had 16 categories under which children competed based on their age group. Each category had different levels that the children had to progress through, the level of difficulty increasing accordingly.  Among the many mathematical sums, some of the categories included tasks like completing 120 sums in five minutes and 80 sums in three.

The children on their part were delighted to be able to compete at the event. “I have been competing in Abacus competitions since sixth standard and it is very useful in mathematics. It also helps a lot in memory; my memory has become sharper after using the Abacus,” said Nikhat, a 10th standard student from St. Ann’s High School.

Agreeing another 15-year-old, Srinivas, who came from Vijayawada to compete, said that the sport has been helping him with his speed. “Abacus has really improved my speed. Initially I was very slow at mathematics but this has really helped me,” he shared.

While the thought of doing mathematics sums in under a time limit may seem very arduous, kids at the national meet were thoroughly enjoying themselves. “I find it really enjoyable. It’s great fun to take part in these competitions. It’s very helpful at mathematics and in exercising the brain,” said Uday, a 14-year-old.

First timers took the experience in their stride, despite being overwhelmed by the number of competitors. “It is the first time I am taking part in this competition, and I have found it really exciting so far,” said seventh grader Suraj Reddy from Johnson’s Grammar School.

The competition, which featured four times in the Limca Book of Records, was inaugurated by CV Anand, commissioner of police, Cyberabad, besides Dinesh Victor, managing director of SIP Academy Pvt Ltd and Kelvin Tham.

Quite blown away by the mental prowess exhibited by these young children, Anand commented, “All of us have done mathematics in the past but this is something novel and new. I have not seen anything like this. Even I was good at mathematics but compared to these children, I was very slow. I will take back this experience with me.” Talking about the importance of mental math and learning the abacus, Tham, who is also the president of the Asian Mental Research Association and the Abacus Arithmetic and Development, said, “Technology is becoming a major part of innovation in our lives. But, only children with well developed mental abilities can adopt to these changes more quickly. We can make a positive difference in the child to do things differently from others if we inculcate better learning skills in them.” 

While only a handful of child emerged victorious, Victor counselled the children to not get disappointed. “Do not compare yourself with others, but with your previous performance and how much you have improved. The only way to success is to keep comparing your own performances and try and do better each time,” he said.

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