THEY are the sort of complex sums that would tax most adults – but for one eight-year-old whizz kid they are simply child’s play.
James Griffith, of Musselburgh, shocked parents Susan, 34, and David, 33, when he developed a keen interest in maths and left nursery staff stunned when he started counting to 255 at an age when his peers couldn’t reach ten.
The Loretto Junior School student is now receiving one-to-one lessons from his headmaster twice a week, studying complex concepts such as advanced algebra, probability and number theory which children double his age struggle with.
The youngster, who said his “favourite bit about maths is numbers”, has also achieved a Silver in the Individual Intermediate Maths Challenge – a national competition for 16-year-olds in which he scored 69, putting him in the top 20 per cent of all students taking the test.
He has also helped his school secure a finals place in the Team Maths Challenge, where the average age is 13.
He said: “I like mental arithmetic and problem solving. Right now at school I’m doing ratios and surds. At home I do simultaneous equations and quadratic equations.”
Mrs Griffith said she had been amazed when she discovered her son’s talent.
She said: “We first noticed it when he was at nursery and they called us in because – I recall he was maybe four – and they said he had counted squares on a piece of square paper and got up to 255. At nursery they can maybe count to ten.
“It was actually so sweet because I have got a file of all the things he’s said and one of them was ‘My Mammy loves me a million’ and one million has six zeros.”
Mrs Griffith also said it has become a joke between her and her husband for who can “attempt” to help James with his homework and revealed he learned all of his times tables in one weekend – when he was only five.
“He did his first term in primary school when he was about five and towards the end of term I printed out a standard GCSE maths paper and I came in and he had done roughly two-thirds of it.”
However, despite being gifted, the family have never put James through an IQ test, saying they do not want to measure their son and that he is a “normal” boy who enjoys stunt scootering, having his friends round for tea and playing the piano and cello.
“He’s a very normal, very independent and easy-going child,” Mrs Griffith added.
School head Philip Meadows said: “James is an outstanding mathematician with considerable innate ability and great potential. He demonstrates great mental dexterity and considerable intellectual maturity whilst retaining a schoolboy charm and enthusiasm.”
THINK YOU’RE SMARTER THAN AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD?
James solves problems at National 5 level for fun. Here are some of his favourites:
1. After a four per cent wage rise, Bill earned £1248 each month.
Calculate how much Bill earned each month before the wage rise.
2. Jean bought an antique ring for £200. Its value appreciates by ten per cent each year.
Calculate the value of the ring after ten years.
3. A glass bowl is in the shape of a hemisphere with a diameter of 33cm. Trisha fills the bowl with water. What is the maximum amount of water the glass bowl can hold? Give your answer in millilitres correct to 2 significant figures.
Answers – 1: £1200 each month; 2: £518.75; 3: 580ml.