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It's countdown to World Maths Day

The `Human Calculator' has been flagging up education's global games, writes Henry Hepburn

The `Human Calculator' has been flagging up education's global games, writes Henry Hepburn

Next to the fastest cars and the tallest buildings, a man who can do sums quite well may not seem the most exciting entry in the Guinness World Records book. But American Scott Flansburg, dubbed the Human Calculator, came to Scotland last month to show pupils why maths is anything but boring.

He visited schools in Edinburgh and East Kilbride to entertain pupils with his numerical dexterity, which allows him to add, subtract, multiply, divide and do square and cube roots at great speed.

Mr Flansburg holds the record for "fastest human calculator": he can add the same number to itself more times in 15 seconds than can be done with a calculator.

He believes everyone has the ability to be good at maths and to enjoy it, but that most have not learned to do maths in a way that works for them.

"It's the most popular language on the planet Earth, and yet our kids, parents and teachers all around the world feel like it's OK to be bad at maths," he said in a BBC radio interview.

He came to Scotland to encourage pupils to enter the World Education Games, including World Spelling Day (6 March), World Maths Day (7 March) and World Science Day (8 March).

The games are billed as the world's largest education event, with 5.5 million pupils aged 6-18, from 55,000 schools in 235 countries and territories, expected to participate in 2012.

The games are played out through a series of 60-second challenges, in which pupils play online against others in the same age group. It is free to enter and challenges can be practised online.

Students who perform exceptionally can become ambassadors for the World Education Games. Scotland's current ambassador is the Glasgow Academy's Sharan Maiya, 13.

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