Num­ber’s up for dif­fi­cult num­bers


TWO COWAN House pupils made their school proud af­ter they achieved gold at the Global As­so­ci­a­tion of Ja­panese Soroban and Men­tal Arith­metic (GASJMA) cham­pi­onships in Bangkok.

David Nien­aber, 12, and his brother, Skyler, 9, of Hil­ton, qual­i­fied for the com­pe­ti­tion af­ter com­ing out tops at a na­tional cham­pi­onship in Gaut­eng last year.

The sib­lings, who went up against pupils from In­dia, Aus­tralia and Le­banon, each had six min­utes to write an ex­am­i­na­tion us­ing the aba­cus to com­plete 40 ad­di­tion, mul­ti­pli­ca­tion and di­vi­sion ques­tions.

“They there­after had another two-minute ex­am­i­na­tion to an­swer 40 ques­tions men­tally,” said their mother, Char­maine, who ac­com­pa­nied them to Thailand.

She said David was also one of two South Africans cho­sen to demon­strate how he com­puted com­plex math­e­mat­ics sums men­tally on stage.

Speak­ing about at­tain­ing gold, David said: “At one stage, I wanted to pinch my­self to check if dream.”

The Grade 7 pupil said he was un­de­cided on what to study af­ter he ma­tric­u­lated.

At this stage he is pre­par­ing for his next hur­dle, high school.

Skyler, who is in Grade 3, has his fu­ture mapped out.

“I want to be a scrumhalf for the Spring­boks.”

Their mom added: “To com­pete in­ter­na­tion­ally was an achieve­ment and to re­ceive gold was the cherry on top.

“My hus­band David and I just hope the boys use the ex­pe­ri­ence to their ad­van­tage.”

She said the boys were en­rolled in a maths club four years ago, as they were con­cerned about the stan­dard of South Africa’s ed­u­ca­tion.

“We tried to give them a bet­ter foun­da­tion, which can carry them through to high school.”

Char­maine de­scribed her sons as quiet, but still typ­i­cal boys.

“They love sport and do­ing stuff out­doors, like rid­ing mo­tor­bikes with their dad.”

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David and Skyler Nien­aber, who re­ceived gold at a maths com­pe­ti­tion in Bangkok.

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