The Ayb Educational Foundation hosted the other day one of the winners of the Kangaroo competition, Aren Mkhitaryan, who is currently studying in Europe. Aren came to the Foundation after his award, and we jumped at a chance to talk to him about studying abroad, his future plans, and the role of the Kangaroo mathematics competition in his life.
The knowledge gained in the RA is competitive
Now I am in the 12th grade at Schloss Krumbach International School. The school operates in a 13th-century castle located in the forest, Austria. It is a very conducive environment for learning: besides having classes, I actively play chess, basketball and run my blog about anime. The students live together on campus in Austria. The good side of it is that you always have company and can initiate something interesting with your peers. We often organize sports competitions with each other. Once we tried to jointly solve the problem of providing the school with energy.
European school education emphasizes other skills. For example, you can master organizational skills as well as learn proper correspondence and blogging in English classes. Armenian education is mostly based on bookish knowledge, but I must say the knowledge I gained in the RA is competitive in Europe. The difference is that you have to learn and memorize a lot of things here, while the European education is more practical, for instance, it provides ready mathematical formulas. I would say that neither of these two models of education system is better. In my opinion, the most effective is the combination of these two models.
Kangaroo develops the skills of quick thinking and decision-making
I have participated in the Kangaroo math competition since the fourth grade almost each year. Thanks to my active participation in the competition I have a “kangaroo farm” at home (Aren is laughing here). I studied at PhysMath school in Armenia. It was very pleasant that more than half of our class took part in Kangaroo and there were constantly discussions about the solutions of the problems after the competition. Even after the competition, in math classes, we all tried to solve the problems again and find the shortest solutions. This competition is a fascinating challenge. Finding solutions to problems is based not so much on exact knowledge as on logic. Kangaroo develops the skills of quick thinking and quick decision-making, which are highly important in life. Very often making the right decisions is the most crucial part of the job, as even if you haven't solved the problem, you should guess which answer might be right. Perhaps it is also thanks to this skill that I became the winner of the competition twice, in the 9th and 11th grades. Besides, I received awards twice.
Kangaroo International Camp in Bulgaria
As a winner of Kangaroo, this year I also participated in the competition’s international camp. That was a very good experience for me, as all the people interested in mathematics were gathered in one place. At the camp, solving problems became more interesting at each next level. Our camp had a cultural component as well. We had an excursion to the old part of Veliko Tarnovo, which was once the capital city of Bulgaria. That was really impressive.
The future profession and Kangaroo
For a long time, I had been undecided about my future profession, but in the end I decided to study artificial intelligence, as it is one of the fastest growing fields. My love for mathematics, the most important subject for my future profession, was also formed as a result of participating in Kangaroo.
A few tips for students participating in the Kangaroo competition
My advice is not to focus too much on one question and not to think for a long time. It is more effective to constantly go ahead, then come back trying to find the answer to the puzzle with new thoughts.
It is also very important to think outside the box and sometimes focus on the most unlikely solution to the problem. The competition’s problems are unique and it is often hard to find their solutions with an academic mindset.