Little girl makes maths look as easy as counting to 10
The international olympiad champion from Centurion is determined to show that maths is fun and simple
A 10-year-old Centurion girl has turned her passion for mathematics and helping others into a thriving business.
Samphiwa Halana, of Centurion, started with the project when she visited her grandparents’ home in Maclear, Eastern Cape, in December 2017, developing a set of cards pupils could use to learn multiplication. Her innovation was inspired by her cousin who was struggling with multiplication.
Samphiwa’s mother Bulelwa said: “She always held maths classes with kids from around Maclear. The first time she did this she was shocked that Grade 5s hated maths so much.
“We saw the cousin was struggling with multiplication. Samphiwa started helping her, and by end of the holidays the cousin’s multiplications had improved.
“This is something she was also doing at her school. She improved what she learnt at school and developed a better multiplication table that gives kids tricks to build confidence. She believes one has to instil the love for numbers to inculcate the love for maths in kids and this is her start,” Bulelwa said.
Samphiwa in 2017 participated in a mathematics competition in Thailand and came in second. Last year she came in first at a maths olympiad in Thailand.
After the June holidays in 2018, Samphiwa with the help of her aunt, Noluvuyo, then developed a key holder with 13 multiplication cards and started sharing it with her friends and other learners.
“Her aunt advised us that we can make money if we develop a set of cards on a key holder and sell to other learners and parents. We then started sharing Sam’s key holders on social media, and we were shocked when we received many orders from individual parents and teachers. To date, we have sold more than 5,000 sets, but mostly in Gauteng,” Bulelwa said.
Samphiwa said: “I saw my cousin struggling with maths. I gave her some of my school multiplications cards and wrote some tricks for her on a piece of paper to make sure she remembers.
“Her mom, Noluvuyo, loved my tricks and advised my mother that I can help other children and at the same time make some money for myself. All I wanted was to make other children love maths like I do.”
Samphiwa used her first profit from the key holders to buy 100 pairs of school shoes for pupils from disadvantaged schools near her grandparents’ place in Maclear.
Maclear Public School principal Nosekethe Nodada said they were very proud of what Samphiwa had achieved at such a young age.
“It wouldn’t have been fair to help these learners with maths only. They needed the school shoes also,” Samphiwa said.
Four schools – Plettenberg Bay Primary in the Western Cape, Kings Academy in Alberton, ClevaMe Academy in Cresta and Summerhill in Mhlali, KwaZulu-Natal – confirmed to have ordered the mathematics cards and using them.
Kings Academy teacher Nicole Lofstedt bought 20 key holders and distributed them among friends and family.
“These have been very useful for our grades 3, 4 and 5, especially aftercare with homework. Since we bought these we have seen a huge improvement in our learners’ mathematics,” Lofstedt said.
Summerhill House, a nongovernmental organisation in Stanger, KwaZulu-Natal, whose sole motivation is to provide homes and personal transformation for orphaned children, bought 80 of the key holders. Chief academic officer Lizelle Cambell-Wilson at Jacaranda College, where Samphiwa studies, said the school was also using the cards for pupils moving from grades 3 to 4.
“These have been very instrumental in making all learners understand and love maths,” Cambell-Wilson said.
These are not the only cards Samphiwa has developed for other pupils. While still in Grade 3, she developed English cards to help pupils battling with the language. “At the school we encourage our learners to be as creative as they can be,” Cambell-Wilson said.
“What also helped Sam, is we use the old Japanese abacus maths and combined it with the normal school maths. With the abacus, you can add up, take away and do division and multiplication up to a billion. And it’s really not complicated. All the learners need is a bit of time and concentration to get the basics down,” Cambell-Wilson said.
She also wrote her IEB exams in science and maths and got distinctions in both subjects.