A 10-year-old girl from Szeged represented Hungary at the Mental Mathematics Junior European Championship last week. There has never been a Hungarian participant in the competition, in which students have to multiply 20-digit numbers or calculate the cube root. Jázmin Szin ranked in the top five, even though she only prepared for the competition for three months.
In Hungary, mental mathematics use a lesser-known method, which is proved by only being taught in Szeged. The essence of it is that people only count in their head, practically faster than they would on a computer. There are many different international competitions about it, none of which has had a Hungarian competitor before. In Reken, Germany, where last week’s Junior European Championship was held, Jázmin Szin was the one to represent our country. In one of the exercises, she made a remarkable achievement, reports Dél Magyar.
“60 young people from nine countries competed,” said Boglárka Soós, the teacher who prepared her, also the coordinator of the Little Genius Mental Arithmetic School in Hungary. “They had to multiply 20-digit numbers by 20-digit numbers, while in the second set of tests, they had to solve 50 exercises in 15 minutes, where they had to calculate the given numbers with mathematical operations so that in the end, the result would be 100.” In the main test, there were two hours of cube root calculating, currency exchange, base and year calculations,”
the teacher detailed; the competitors were tested in over 17 exercise types.
The competitors could not use paper and pencil for the calculations; only the final result could be written down. There were no age groups in the first two categories, so, Jázmin competed against 19-year-olds, too. On her main test, however, she won 5th place. Those who placed before her have all been competing for the four years — by the way, they all learn at Little Genius schools as well. The value of Jázmin’s success is further enhanced by the fact that the little girl from Szeged only learned the methodology for solving the competition tasks for only 3 months, so, there were also examples that she could not grasp. Her preparatory teacher chose not to teach everything because of the shortage of time available, but what they would learn, they would practice until perfection.
Jázmin has been studying mental mathematics for 3 years, which is the foundation of the abacus. “In the beginning, they use it for counting, and later, they only imagine it. The two hemispheres of the brain work at the same time: the left counts while the right sees where the balls stand. Formulations are used for different calculations,” explained Boglárka Soós. In Hungary, besides Jázmin, no one knows these mathematical tricks, as she developed her knowledge further at the competition in Germany, with 11-time world champion Dr Gert Mettring’s teachings. The ten-year-old girl will give a lecture at the school’s teacher training in September. She also benefits from her special knowledge at the eight-grade high school in Karolina, where she goes – but not necessarily in mathematics only.
“Of course, I can count on paper, too, because it is required in tests. Mental mathematics, however, is the best brain developing method, so I learn more easily,”
said Jázmin, who also said that she did what she loves by using this method, as she enjoys counting. The girl will represent Hungary in two weeks’ time at the Olympics and then at the World Championship in October. She plans to continuously compete until she turns 19 years old, which is the upper age limit.
Watch Jázmin count:
Read about another Hungarian child’s success HERE.