The Math Wizters: Samantha and Maxinne Co

For sisters Ma. Samantha Ysabel and Maxinne Louise Dominique Co, being math wizards at a young age of 11 and 10 respectively, meant double victory when they won bronze and silver in the 8th International Mathematics Contest in Singapore last August 3-6, 2012.
But, before such feat, these two Ateneo de Iloilo-educated sisters underwent intensive training starting with the 12-Saturday Mathematics Challenge for Filipino Kids Training Program (MCFKTP) held in West Visayas State University and conducted by the Mathematics Trainers' Guild, Philippines (MTG).
After that, they qualified for the four-day MTG Young Mathematician's In-House Intensive Training Program (YMIITP).
Ma. Samantha Ysabel Co

Samantha shared that the training enhanced their math skills, ability to interact with other trainees from different parts of the country and develop their independence.
After that, they took the Philippines Invitation Mathematics Examination (PIME). If a student passes this, he/she can represent the country in international math competitions.
“Fortunately, my sister and I both qualified. The last phase was a five-week training in Manila - Mathematical Olympiad Summer Training Program -with a Monday to Saturday schedule of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. classes. It was very difficult and tiring because we had to adjust to the Manila traffic and pollution which we were not used to, but it was there that we learned more difficult math problems that we've never encountered before.  And at the same time we gained a lot of new friends from other provinces and cities,” Sam added.
Maxinne shared, “Aside from the long and intensive trainings, we were sent reviewers by MTG a few weeks before the competition in Singapore. We answered the reviewers at home and sometimes in school after classes or on weekends with the help of our Math teacher, Ma'am Fe Jimenez.”

For the Co sisters, going to Singapore was not just about winning in the competition but also about having fun.
“Part of the trip was a visit to different tourist attractions in Singapore. The Universal Studios was one of them and we got to enjoy the rides with all our MTG friends. Our mom also brought us to the Harry Potter Exhibit that incidentally was being held in Singapore. My sister and I are really fans of the book and the movies so just imagine our excitement inside the exhibit! That was the highlight of our trip aside of course for getting the bronze medal and my sister getting a silver,” she added.
Maxinne Louise Dominique Co

Perhaps, the sisters’ skill in math runs in the family thanks to their paternal grandfather. Maxinne added that their dad Phillip Co and their uncle Warren are also good in math.
“Sometimes my sister and I go to either my Dad or Uncle when we encountered math problems that we can't solve or understand,” Maxinne shared.
Such skill was further enhanced because their mother Vanessa Lanceta-Co let them play with puzzles and shape sorters since they were small, said Samantha. “My mom told me that after I mastered my puzzles and before I get bored with them, she would mix three or four puzzles together to make it more challenging.”
“The toys my sister played with were all handed down to me and my Mom did the same thing,” Maxinne added.

It’s not enough to be born with a skill. To achieve, a person needs to hone this.
Sam tells her fellow students who want to be good in Math to always study and practice solving math problems. “And it helps if you learn to like the subject instead of hating it,” she said.
“It will also help if you involve yourself in math related activities like Sudoku. Or you can ask your parents to enroll you in Kumon. The daily worksheets will really help your mind get use to solving math problems and it also develops your study habit,” Maxinne said.
But, they advise that it’s best to be good at other subjects, too.
“I try to be good in all subjects,” shared Samantha who also likes the Language and Reading subjects.
“I really read a lot.  I love dealing not only with numbers but with words, too. I also like to write in our school paper,” she said.

Despite being active in their academic life, Samantha and Maxinne are like other kids their age who play computer games, but with a sense of responsibility.
When Samantha has time, she plays Mathemagics on Ipad. “It teaches you how to do simple multiplication and division faster. I don't use this app always because I'd rather play with other games like LogosQuiz or just watch videos.”

Parents want their children to excel and give them pride just like what Samantha and Maxinne did. In order to achieve this, take it from the wizters’ lessons: Start the training early through educational toys and study always.*

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