Peter Huang, a Riverside Middle School pupil who has lived in this country for only four years, recently placed 77th out of 228 contenders in a national math competition
Photo by Jim BlaylockPeter Huang attributes his mathematical talent to his Chinese heritage.
"Most Chinese people are good at math," the Riverside Middle School eighth-grader said. "We learn it faster. Some of the things they teach us in third grade in China, they would teach in fifth grade here."
Peter, who has lived in the United States for four years, recently placed 77th out of 228 contenders in a national math competition. MATHCOUNTS, a national math coaching and competition program for middle-school pupils, began in 1983. This year, more than 225 state winners were expected to compete in the national competition, held in Chicago over Mother's Day weekend.
According to Brenda Balliet, the MATHCOUNTS coach at Riverside Middle School, pupils placing in the top four at state competitions comprise a team to represent their state at the national event. Peter was the only pupil from the area to be on the Georgia team, having placed third in the state competition in Atlanta in late March.
"He is so phenomenal," said Balliet of Peter. "In all my years of teaching, I have never seen anyone do math like him."
Peter placed 67th in the individual competition in Florida last year. He never expected to make the Georgia team this year.
"I was kind of surprised," he said. "I thought I couldn't get that good because of last year."
The only child of Yihua Huang and Bing Yi of Martinez, Peter, whose given name is Jian, said his parents helped him study for the math competition.
"They help me study math problems," he said.Before the national competition, he was studying word problems, geometry, number sequence and probability on a daily basis.
Aside from the state and national MATHCOUNTS events, Peter participated in a middle-school math contest at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, placing first among more than 1,000 pupils and garnering a perfect score.
"I guess it's fun doing math problems," Peter said.
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