SMK TAMAN Yarl student Prasad Thandapani crossed his arms rather awkwardly during a photoshoot held after the launch of the RHB-The Star Mighty Minds National Challenge in his school on Thursday.
When asked to strike a fun pose with his teacher Siti Fahneem Yahaya and former teammate Jayvin Singh Harbans Singh, the Form Four student reluctantly humoured the writers and said that he was a “boring” person.
But boring he was not as Prasad might just be the most interesting teen around with a vast collection of coins. He’s also an accomplished sitar player to boot.
Bearing a slight resemblance to the Leonard Hofstadter character from The Big Bang Theory television series, Prasad said he loved reading since he was young and grew up on a diet of National Geographic and History Channel documentaries.
“Just look at my hobbies, I agree that I am a nerd,” said the 16-year-old with a laugh.
Regardless, Prasad’s “nerdiness” had paid off handsomely in the Mighty Minds competition last year.
During the buzzer quiz at the state challenge last year, he was the only participant who knew that the late sitar player Ravi Shankar was a Grammy Awards winner.
His team’s outstanding performance at the multiple choice questions and the buzzer quiz challenge earned them the first spot at the state challenge last year.
While there is an adage saying that you do not fix what is not broken, Prasad said he was embarking on a different strategy this year.
“I am good in general knowledge but not that great at building models and presentations. The same goes for my former teammates.
“So we want to split up and form teams with other friends. I think it is better for the team to be more dynamic with each member having different strengths,” said Prasad.
Jayvin was definitely not the Sheldon Cooper to Prasad’s Hofstadter. The skinny 16-year-old was amiable and shared his love for computer games and sports, which he said he spends a lot of his free time on.
“I prefer to play computer games and sports,” said Jayvin, albeit still admitting that he prepared for the competition by reading the newspaper in order to stay updated.
During the state competition last year, the team was able to score point after point in the buzzer quiz challenge due to the boys’ strength in general knowledge.
Siti Fahneem agreed with Prasad’s move to combine the skills of team members with different abilities.
“Although the team had built a very good model last year (a lift with disabled-friendly features) at the national finals, they didn’t win because they failed to convince the judges during the presentation.
“We certainly hope that they can do better this year,” she said.
Senior assistant Lee Swee Lin said students had been very enthusiastic in participating in a variety of competitions.
“They do not join just for the sake of scoring co-curriculum points. Many of them have been very competitive and they want to join as many competitions as possible,” said Lee.
The competition is jointly organised by Star Publications (M) Bhd and RHB Banking Group. Taking place in 14 states, the competition took off in Penang yesterday. The next state challenge will be in Sabah on April 5.
Winners in each category of the state challenges will travel to the Klang Valley for the national finals.
For details, contact The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 03-7967 1777 / 1703 or visit www.thestar.com.my/mightyminds.