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`Human calculators' come in high-speed action

M. Balaganessin

Astonishing performance by students in test on basic arithmetic

RAPID-FIRE: Students working solving problems during an Abacus test in Tiruchi on Sunday. — Photo: R.M. Rajarathinam

TIRUCHI: If you were to solve the 100 simple arithmetic problems on addition and subtraction, you would surely take more than an hour, that too with all possible `error and omission expected' syndrome. But, the little students did it, sans the syndrome, within five minutes. More surprising information is that they belong to `preliminary level' category of the Abacus technique.

For another batch with advanced skills in arithmetic, it was a bit tougher. They solved the mind-boggling 100 problems in either multiplication or division, again within five minutes. The regional-level test on basic arithmetic for students undergoing the `abacus and brain gym' course offered by the Sociable, Intellectual and Progressive (SIP) Academy India held in Tiruchi city, brought to light the capabilities of little boys and girls in solving the problems, with a sheer resolve and deep concentration. A total of 320 pupils, about 180 of them girls, from Madurai, Sivakasi, Tiruchi, Villupuram, Vadalur, Bhuvanagiri, Pondicherry and

Cuddalore participated in the contest which was divided into eight levels, depending on the term of training under the brain gym programme they completed at these centres. No sooner a whistle was blown, students started twisting their fingers, each finger in a specific direction, and with a serious calculation and without being gripped by any exam stress or tension. They were all at ease in avoiding delay in processing even jumbled data within split seconds. For instance, the first question on addition and subtraction contained a mixed data "6,-3, 2, 4 5" while for another advanced level it read `39, 24, 91, 78, 16, 60, 45'. "Even though some of them could solve only 60 to 70 problems, leaving the others blank, it is a good symptom of their intelligence quotient and learning skills, as their average per minute achievement is ten questions", says the Director of SIP Academy India, Chennai, Dinesh Victor.

Their concentration can be gauged from the fact that they remained unperturbed when they were videographed, even as the test was in progress. "They will not waste their time by getting distracted on any account - the prime advantage of concentration", Mr. Victor explains.

The Principal of SBIOA School, Tiruchi, K.K.S. Pushpa, said apart from improving students' skills in arithmetic, the Abacus has a telling effect on building up the overall learning ability of students, due to positive activation of brain. Students with abacus training performed well in curricular activities by developing their skills in listening, concentration, memory retention. She has planned to introduce the programme at her school, based on her successful experiment at her previous place of wok in Madurai. Apart from Tiruchi, similar regional level tests had been held earlier in Coimbatore, Chennai and Calcutta. In all 60 students from the

Tiruchi region were selected as winners to participate in the national level test to be held in Hyderabad in November.

The Police Commissioner, Prateep V. Philip, gave away the prizes to the regional level winners, numbering 60.

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