## Oggy Ognianov: For me math is fun and challenging

Oggy Ognianov: For me math is fun and challenging

How did you solve the problems?

The third one I solved because I had already solved the second one. The second one I solved, because I had already solved the first one and the first I solved because I had not solved even one …

(unknown fun mathematician)

Oggy is a charming, a little shy and unusually intelligent fifth-grader.

It will take us a long time to tell you about all his achievements and medals, so you can see for yourself here where he is presented as one of the successful children who have been recognized by the Dimitar Berbatov Foundation.

His achievements are really fantastic, but we want to introduce you to the unusual personality of this child, what inspires him, what motivates him, has mathematics ceased to be fun for him, and what he sees ahead of him.

Fun Mathematics: Hello, Oggy, we decided to meet you and tell your story because parents are constantly asking us if the fun math classes help you become a strong mathlete one day. Today we want to introduce them to you because you are developing in the field of mathematics quite successfully. Our goal has never been to create contestants, this is some side effect that may occur, depending on the character, inclinations, temperament and interests of a child. But we would like you to tell us a bit more about it and share experiences. You are not feeling uneasy, are you?

Oggy: I’m actually very nervous.

Fun Mathematics: Let’s not make it so formal then. We will have some fun and let’s talk as before. Do you remember when you actually decided to become a mathlete?

Oggy: Well, I do not know … at first I just started playing with mathematics and then with Mom I decided to continue with it to have it as a basis. We decided to continue with the lessons and I started slowly to compete from time to time.

Fun Mathematics: How did this slow start happen? You went on a competition, you liked, you … won something and you got hooked. Is it so?

Oggy: Something like that, yeah.

Fun Mathematics: What’s your favorite competition like? The atmosphere, organization and everything?

Oggy: Maybe my favorite is an international competition in Cambodia.

Here, Ogi’s mother completes his story because he is too modest and tells him that at the Cambodia competition he was specifically invited for his maximum result at the Asian SASMO competition and was awarded by the local Minister of Education (more details are available in the above link). It adds how unusually good Oggy is in spatial and geometric tasks.

Oggy: And this foundation in geometry was created here by you.

Fun Mathematics: How exactly? Describe us, please tell us more about it because we want to know how to help other children in the same way. Is what we do enough? What exactly of what you saw here helped you. Was it really your first meeting with math here, or were you already in love with it?

Oggy: Mom actually decided to enroll me in mathematics and see if I can cope or not. And for three years this was my favorite, I also loved to participate at the fun style of Fun Mathematics at the Sofia Festival of Science.

Fun Mathematics: Do you remember the first math teacher?

Oggy: I remember her, but I cannot remember her name.

Fun Mathematics: And what was the feeling when you came to Fun Mathematics?

Oggy: Well, I was coming somehow with a provocative sense of whether I would solve the problems.

Fun Mathematics: Were there cases where you did not solve the problems?

Oggy: Yes, there certainly were cases where I didn’t. I was even testing my mom sometimes.

Fun Mathematics: What was your favorite task?

Oggy: The cubes unfolding ….

Fun Mathematics: And how do you say we developed your geometrical thinking?

Oggy: Not exactly geometry but spatial thinking. Here we did many such problems. And they were my favourites, and I quickly learned to solve them. I liked when things had to be built, the tangrams …

Fun Mathematics: Normally what do you choose, things that are easy or more challenging?

Oggy: I would always choose to go on a harder lesson.

Fun Mathematics: And do you think that if you had not gone to the Fun Mathematics you would choose another path?

Oggy: Well yes, I certainly would not have started with mathematics, because here I realized that I had talent and I started to develop it. Before the Fun Matematics I did not think math was fun.

Fun Mathematics: Do you see a connection between mathematics and music, have you ever considered yourself … How did your maths work in the other spheres you are dealing with?

Here we are talking a little longer about the relationship between mathematics and programming, which Oggy is also attracted to, as well as music, about the practicality of mathematics in other spheres of life …

Fun Mathematics: Let me ask you something else … we say that when one deals with mathematics, one gets a certainty that he can handle everything. Is that so with you? Do you notice it for yourself?

Oggy: Confidence? Rather, it is a series of small challenges. As if every following task was more difficult than before, and I am challenged to solve them all. I start wondering and try to solve it until I am given a harder problem.

Fun Mathematics: What is most precious to you after so many competitions? Awards, impressions, emotions …

Oggy: Maybe that I already have many friends from different countries.

Fun Mathematics: How do you contact them?

Oggy: We speak over Viber in English.

Here Oggy and his mother tell us about an Australian child of Ukrainian-Jewish origin. In Oggy’s years, he is already a math student admitted with the maximum grade of the SAT 2 exam. With Oggy they are friends and sometimes write, and due to the time difference that can only happen early in the morning before school.

Fun Mathematics: Do you think it is important for a child to communicate? Here, you have it, but there are many mathematicians who just want to solve problems and not talk to anybody.

Oggy: I was personally very much inspired by this communication.

Fun Mathematics: And do you believe that one can be good in more than one thing?

Oggy: Of course, you can even be good at math and sport. But most children choose just one thing, they may not have seen that math can be fun too. And as Mom says, if this basis is not learnt before school starts, then it’s hard.

Fun Mathematics: And in the first grade, were you bored in mathematics class?

Oggy: First and second class seem to have passed very quickly …

Fun Mathematics: Did not your interest fall because the tasks in your school were easy?

Oggy: No, I invent my challenges, for example, trying to solve them more quickly.

Fun Mathematics: And what do you do when you’re ready?

Oggy: I’m waiting for the class to finish painting the numbers, giving every digit a face :D.

Fun Mathematics: Smiling face or not only?

Oggy: Everyone was smiling, except for one.

Fun Mathematics: Do the tasks become more difficult, is there still a fun element?

Oggy: Well, yes, there is. We just solve fewer such tasks now – calculus and counting, but often geometry and logic that I have most loved.

Fun Mathematics: And what about those parents who ask “is my child fit to become a mathlete”? Because many parents want to be told immediately.

Oggy: You need at least 1 year to understand this. But if you do not like it, it makes no sense to do it.

Fun Mathematics: What is your favorite number?

Oggy: I do not have one or I change them. For example, 5 and 3.

Fun Mathematics: Is there a reason?

Oggy: No, just to have them.

Fun Mathematics: What is fun math for you?

Oggy: Every math is fun. Maybe I just do not like rebus. There is logic in them, but they are mostly calculations.

Fun Mathematics: And do you know what you want to work when you grow up?

Oggy: Not yet.

Fun math: Have you helped your classmates to understand math?

Oggy: Well, yes, it happened to me.

Fun Mathematics: What is the feeling of being a teacher? Is it difficult to explain to someone something you know well?

Oggy: It’s rather interesting to me, but I did not think about becoming a teacher.

Fun Mathematics: What do you think is important to a teacher?

Oggy: To know how to explain, to be able to teach interestingly, and not just to read from the textbook. I love most teachers who put effort into explaining things in a more fun and interesting way, because it is easier to remember. The teacher is the most important, he can make you give up on math and can bring you closer to it.

Fun Mathematics: Finally, I want to thank you and ask your mom one last question – what is her role in preparing you as a competitor?

Mom: Delicate support, as well as constantly striving to find interesting activities.