Year Five and Six pupils count their way to the top in numbers challenge


FOUR perfect scorers and an overall champion, along with 202 awards – that was the result produced by a team of 122 students representing Malaysia at an international math competition held virtually recently.

Year Five pupils Ho Janson and Soo Eu Khai, and Year Six pupils Hoo Xinyi and Yap Shi Thau were named the perfect scorers of the Math Olympiad component at the Singapore International Math Olympiad Challenge (SIMOC) 2021, which drew the participation of 1,907 students from 25 countries.

Overall champion: Shi Thau attributes his latest achievement to his participation in other math competitions.Overall champion: Shi Thau attributes his latest achievement to his participation in other math competitions.

They also won awards at two other events: the Mind Sports Challenge and the Math Master Mind Competition, both of which were team-based.

Shi Thau, a pupil at SJK(C) Chong Cheng, Penang, went on to beat 211 other contestants to emerge the overall champion of his grade.

In an email interview with StarEdu, the first-time participant at the competition said he was “extremely delighted” with the outcome.

“This is my first time obtaining a perfect score and being named the overall champion at a math Olympiad,” said Shi Thau, who won gold at the Mind Sports Challenge and a bronze at the Math Master Mind Competition.

He attributed his latest achievement to his participation in other math competitions.

“I joined Kangaroo Math Competition, which was my first math competition, at age nine.

“From there, I started gaining an interest in math Olympiads such as the Singapore and Asian Schools Math Olympiad (SASMO) and the Asian Science and Maths Olympiad (ASMO),” he shared, adding that joining the competitions boosted his confidence and motivated him to improve his math skills.

“With these experiences, I was able to calm myself down and not panic at SIMOC,” he said.

Shi Thau added that online tutorials and materials had helped him prepare for the competition during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“I was not able to attend physical classes and online lessons could be a problem as my teacher might not be able to monitor my progress very closely,” he said.

Having taken part in SIMOC 2021, Shi Thau said the experience taught him the importance of teamwork.

“When we work together, we share information about topics we are good at, and complex problems can be solved easily,” he said.

To those wishing to be SIMOC participants, Shi Thau, who aspires to be a math Olympiad teacher, said, “Practise every day because hard work will pay off. Always revise after learning a new lesson and ask questions if you have any.”

He also cautioned students against going into a competition just to win.

“The competition is a process and not an end point. Never give up if you do not win any awards,” he said.

SIMOC 2021 was open to participants studying in Year One to the STPM or A-Levels. The Malaysian team won 72 awards from the Math Olympiad, 64 from the Mind Sports Challenge, and 66 from the Math Master Mind Competition.

During the Math Olympiad, students were required to share their screens with the organisers, as well as provide a separate live video of themselves completing the individual written test.

For the team-based challenges, students were tasked with solving mathematical puzzles in teams comprising members from different countries and different grades within the same division.

Singapore Maths + Olympiad (SMO) Education Group, which is the exclusive country partner for SIMOC, said in a press release that the Malaysian team did exceedingly well despite the pressures and disruptions caused by the pandemic.

“Their success in this event gives us hope that the next generation will be more than capable of rising to meet the global challenges and provide for a brighter future ahead,” it said.

SIMOC 2021 was organised by Singapore International Math Contests Centre and supported by non-profit foundation Scholastic Trust Singapore.

The awards ceremony was held online on Aug 8.

Michael, 18, a student in Kuala Lumpur, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. Throughout the year-long programme, participants aged between 14 and 22 from all across the country experience life as journalists, contributing ideas, conducting interviews, and completing writing assignments. They get to earn bylines, attend workshops, and extend their social networks. To join Star-NiE’s online youth community, go to facebook.com/niebrats.

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