2nd Place Out of 834 Top Math Students in the World

This June, Pythagoras Academy student Xing Hua Jiang (Ray) won 2nd place in the  1st Grade section of the 2018 International Math Teaching Association (IMTA) contest. The IMTA is a Taiwanese organization. A total of 834 competitors participated in the 1st Grade group, and it is remarkable for Ray to receive 2nd place in the fierce competition. 

PA interviewed Ray’s father Mr. Eric Jiang, to share his education experiences. Mr. Jiang has got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Oxford. Mr. Jiang said, “When Ray was born, we thought that he might have potential in math and science. He was quite sensitive to numbers and could figure out floor numbers in elevators when he was about 2 years old. In kindergarten, he was able to calculate 3-digit additions, subtractions, simple multiplication and solve linear equations in two unknowns. By the end of Grade 1, he has mastered multiplication and division. His math ability is far beyond his grade level. However, we haven’t pushed much. Ray has been a fast learner in many subjects. By teaching him once or twice, he gets the ideas. Moreover, we understand the vitalness that interests and self-motivation need to be cultivated at young age. We have enjoyed playing entertaining math and logic games with him and tried our best to expand his horizon. We really appreciate Pythagoras Academy offering him the opportunity of the Success Center for math challenges. Those challenges have made Ray smarter. After school, Ray has Kumon and MPM classes for supplement. The first one is ideal for enhancing foundation, such as accuracy and speed of calculation. The second one is for practicing logical thinking. At home, Eric is the one who answers Ray’s various questions in all subjects. This math contest has been organized by IMTA (International Math Teaching Association ), which is the mother organization for MPM classes. It is held in the summer every year for evaluation of MPM class students. It is a good idea not to push knowledge, but instead expand the logical thinking of children at an early age. IMTA is a contest of this type. In the future, Ray will choose to participate in some provincial or national math competitions in Grade 3 or 4.

Pythagoras Academy is a new independent school. The atmosphere is very friendly. Everyone has been working hard to offer high quality education. We love the various events and activities every year. We appreciate PA for the math challenges in the Success Centre. We love the diversified education in Ray’s classes. Both Ray’s Grade 1 teacher Mrs. Nowicki and Grade 2 teacher Mrs. Barry have noticed Ray’s actual level and potential. They put him in the groups which matches his level. Most importantly, we see the potential of PA, just like we see it in Ray.”

“Ray has a natural talent for mathematics”, Ray’s grade 2 teacher Ms. Vasti Barry said, “I always make sure to ask Ray if his brain ‘grew’ when he completed a math question. If the answer is no, I know Ray requires more of a challenge, and if the answer is yes, that means Ray learned and stretched his thinking. I differentiate all math activities and experiences in my classroom so that students of all levels can experience success and a challenge. I believe that each child should be taught the basic skills in math, but also have rich learning opportunities to apply those math skills. Math is everywhere in our daily lives as adults and if students have more confidence with math at a young age, it sets them up for success later in life. More recently, Ray participated in something called Counting Collections where he has to effectively count a variety of items. This is something that adults need to do on a regular basis. I would encourage Ray to continue to grow his mathematical brain and thinking! ”

Ray’s grade one teacher Ms. Christina Nowicki said “Ray demonstrates a high level of curiosity for learning, he is always willing to take risks, approaches new tasks with a positive attitude, and seeks new challenges. He has a vibrant imagination and excels in creative thinking. I had the pleasure of having Ray in my class for his grade one year. Last year Ray was given many math extension activities and open-ended projects in class. A few of these projects he initiated himself. One such project included a book of word problems he created for his peers. He also attended a math challenge group in our Success Center with a small group of grade two students. Ray kept me on my toes and helped me to become a better teacher by finding new ways to provide challenges and promote critical thinking with my students. He was an emerging leader in our classroom, was always keen to share information, and inspired others with his abilities. With Ray’s passion, innovation, determination, and talents he will do great things!

Michael Bouchard, Head of Junior school praised Ray as a confident mathematical thinker and problem solver, “Ray has participated in our Singapore Math program and enrichment activities. We also give credit to his work at home with his parents on extending his mathematical thinking. Ray has put consistent effort into understanding math concepts and we are proud of his consistent efforts to do his best and persevere during challenging math explorations”.