Local maths ace off to Portugal

2018-04-11 06:03
Shashen Pillay with just a few of the many trophies and medals that he has notched up over the years from excelling academically.PHOTO: byrone athman

Shashen Pillay with just a few of the many trophies and medals that he has notched up over the years from excelling academically.PHOTO: byrone athman

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AFTER having only two-and-a-half days to prepare for the physical science Olympiad qualifying test, Sheshan Pillay made good on his time and topped the test to be named as one of the five pupils who have been selected to represent South Africa at the 49th International Physics Olympiad (IPHO) in Portugal on July 20.

Pillay, in his final year of school at Heather Secondary School, said that he has loved mathematics since primary school and found a liking for physics in Grade 10 when he had to choose his course, citing similarities between mathematics and physics. “I love these subjects because I feel like I can communicate easier through these means rather than languages,” he said.

Pillay’s father, Sherwin, spoke of how they were only aware that their son was selected to take part in the final test two-and-a-half days before the test because of unforeseen circumstance surrounding the school.

“We just thank God that he pulled through in the little time he was given and that he has been selected. We are very proud of him,” said the father.

The trip to Portugal will be far from fun and games though. Pillay has been tasked with having to complete various tasks set for the five who have been selected to sharpen their skills before the Olympiad, with pupils expected completing first- and second-year university work in preparation. “So far I’ve done about seven exercises and the response from my moderator has been good,” he said. At the Olympiad various lecturers from around the world will be present to scout the talent in order to head-hunt the cream of the crop.

Pillay’s family have had to raise R30 000 to fund the trip and have managed to raise most of the money but welcome any more donations that will go towards helping their son showcase his brilliant mind in Portugal. Not one to keep his love of maths and physics to himself, Pillay extends his mind to the pupils in his class, offering his help by tutoring those who have difficulty in the subject.

“For now I help my friends who need it but after the term ends I know that there will be more people who will want help,” said Pillay.

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