A young Mexican mathematician won first place at the ALOHA Mental Arithmetic International Competition in Guangzhou, China, beating out 900 other children from around the world with his mental math prowess.
Sergio Antonio Luna Álvarez, an 8-year-old student from Querétaro, had previously won ALOHA state and national mental math championships, earning him a chance to compete in Guangzhou on July 20.
Sergio’s mother, Cynthia Álvarez Frías, told the newspaper El Universal that Sergio answered all of his questions in three and a half minutes, winning him the Champions’ Cup, a recognition that is higher than first place and is awarded to competitors who answer the problems in record times with no errors.
“Sergio had been nervous for a month before the competition, but on the day he was very relaxed, he wasn’t nervous, he was very calm and sure of himself,” said Álvarez. “When Sergio finished his evaluation, he came out and told us, ‘I think I’m going to win the Champions’ Cup.’ We always believed in him, even though we were nervous.”
Before the competition, Sergio’s mom helped him practice his skills so he would have the best chance of succeeding.
“Honestly, we did expect Sergio to win, because he prepared a lot. In fact, the last few weeks that he was practicing, he was bored,” said Álvarez. “I got nervous, I didn’t know what was happening, but I realized that he was bored because he already understood everything so well.”
Looking forward, Sergio plans to keep studying mental math with the ALOHA system.
“Now, he knows sums and differences, and after this comes multiplication, division, units, tens, thousands, until finally getting to powers, which takes about four years,” Álvarez said. “He wants to get to the end of the program.”
He was among 79 Mexican students who participated. Forty-nine won some sort of recognition, while 13 were named World Champions after they successfully completed 70 error-free calculations in under five minutes.
The competition focuses on the Aloha mental arithmetic program, which is designed to enhance children’s learning abilities by enabling them to do calculations mentally without the aid of any external tools.
Source: El Universal (sp)