Trinidad students top international Math competition in Cambodia

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Trinidad students top international Math competition in Cambodia
From left, Teevan Samlal, Ivan Maharaj, Bruce Boodoo and Kristoff Seebaran celebrate after placing in the top three at the UCMAS International competition in Cambodia on December 8.
From left, Teevan Samlal, Ivan Maharaj, Bruce Boodoo and Kristoff Seebaran celebrate after placing in the top three at the UCMAS International competition in Cambodia on December 8.

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Four young stu­dents have done the coun­try proud by ex­celling in an in­ter­na­tion­al men­tal math­e­mat­ics com­pe­ti­tion in Cam­bo­dia, claim­ing first, sec­ond and third places in their re­spec­tive cat­e­gories.

Ivan Chris­t­ian Ma­haraj, 11, Bruce Boodoo, nine, Tee­van Sam­lal, 15 and Kristoff See­baran, eight, trav­elled 17,000 km to the South-East Asian na­tion to com­pete against more than 4,000 par­tic­i­pants from 80 coun­tries at the Uni­ver­sal Con­cept Men­tal Arith­metic Sys­tem (UC­MAS) 24th In­ter­na­tion­al Com­pe­ti­tion on De­cem­ber 8.

Af­ter com­pet­ing in the one-day event Ma­haraj cap­tured first place, Boodoo placed sec­ond, while Sam­lal and See­baran took third place in their re­spec­tive cat­e­gories. Flash­ing bril­liant smiles, the boys were ex­treme­ly proud of their achieve­ments in an in­ter­view with Guardian Me­dia at Palmiste Park, San Fer­nan­do.

Elat­ed over the chil­dren’s per­for­mance, na­tion­al fran­chisee for UC­MAS T&T, Ro­ma Ajod­ha-See­ber­an ex­plained that the lo­cal branch was formed six years ago, but be­gan com­pet­ing in the in­ter­na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tion about three years ago. This year, how­ev­er, is the first time that UC­MAS T&T has done so well.

The chil­dren were re­quired to first com­plete 200 ques­tions in eight min­utes and the sec­ond part in­volved lis­ten­ing to ques­tions and an­swer­ing them. They were not al­lowed to use an aba­cus or cal­cu­la­tor. The par­ents had to source fund­ing for the trip. Ajod­ha-See­baran said her at­tempts to get spon­sor­ship from the cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ty and the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion were un­suc­cess­ful.

UC­MAS T&T, how­ev­er, gives the stu­dent who places first in the na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tion from which the top stu­dents are se­lect­ed for the in­ter­na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tion, US$1,000 to help to­wards air­fare to get to the in­ter­na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tion. This year the group is hop­ing to host fundrais­ing events to as­sist the stu­dents with their trav­el­ling ex­pens­es.

Ajod­ha-See­baran’s son, Kristoff, was one of the win­ners. She en­cour­aged par­ents to get their chil­dren en­rolled in the pro­gramme and ex­plained that UC­MAS T&T has sev­en cen­tres through­out the coun­try and ac­cepts chil­dren be­tween the ages of three and a half to 14, in­clud­ing slow learn­ers or those with mi­nor learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties.

“All of our kids are do­ing ex­cep­tion­al in school be­cause the pro­gramme fo­cus­es on get­ting the kids to con­cen­trate, to be more ob­ser­vant, their mem­o­ry pow­er is height­ened, their imag­i­na­tion skills are great and their self-con­fi­dence,” she said.

Her vi­sion is to have the pro­gramme in­clud­ed in the na­tion­al school sys­tem.

Sam­lal, a stu­dent of Na­pari­ma Col­lege, said he was a lit­tle ner­vous as it was his first time com­pet­ing on an in­ter­na­tion­al stage.

“But when the pa­per was placed in front of me I said my prayers and felt calm. Two hun­dred ques­tions in eight min­utes is no easy task to com­pete but with prac­tice and hand­work I think I was able to do it well,” he said.

His dream is to be­come an aero­nau­ti­cal en­gi­neer as he has al­ways been fas­ci­nat­ed with aero­planes. See­ber­an, a stu­dent of Grant Memo­r­i­al Pres­by­ter­ian School, and Boodoo, a stu­dent of Bar­rack­pore Vedic Pri­ma­ry School said they were very hap­py at their ac­com­plish­ment which re­quired a lot of hard work.

See­ber­an boast­ed: “I do ques­tions a lot more faster than every­body else in school. That’s why I kind of al­ways fin­ish first.”

Ma­haraj said his ob­jec­tive to be­come an UC­MAS cham­pi­on and per­form the best in all his tasks.

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