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Students Whiz through Calculations in 14th Annual Soroban Contest

For Immediate Release — May 1, 2013 | Pacific
: Public Affairs Specialist | 644-5786
Attribution: Marie Lewis: DoDEA Okinawa District News Liaison

OKINAWA, JAPAN — May 1, 2013 — Elementary school students in the Department of Defense Education Activity Okinawa District put their calculating skills to the test during the 14th Annual Soroban Contest April 29 in the Surfside Ballroom on Camp Kinser.

The fast-paced competition included oral and written mathematical problems which students solved using the Soroban, or Japanese counting tray.

"Though Soroban used to be considered only as a calculation tool, it has also been recognized as an educational tool suitable for children to understand the concepts of numbers," said Okinawa Soroban League Branch Chief Arime Kenyu.

Additionally, students used their knowledge of the Soroban to compete in an Anzan, or mental calculation, competition. In this lightning round, students were presented with a series of numbers appearing in rapid succession, and then prompted to solve the problem within only a few seconds.

Ariel Bresler

Ariel Bresler, a 3rd grade student at Stearley Heights Elementary School, solves a math problem during the 14th Annual Soroban Contest at Camp Kinser April 29. 

"It was fun and challenging," said 4th grade E.C. Killin student Megan Ehret, who earned a 2nd place trophy for her high marks. "I would like it even if there weren't prizes because it's something that I like to do."

Megan was one of 155 students in kindergarten through 5th grade participating in the contest, which was sponsored by the Okinawa Soroban League Educational Association.


Students listen to instructions during the 14th Annual Soroban Contest at Camp Kinser April 29. 

Host nation teachers from each of DoDEA Okinawa's eight elementary schools prepared students for the contest by teaching Soroban skills in their classrooms.

"Giving our students the opportunity to learn how to use the Japanese Soroban helps to bridge the gap between cultures and gives our students lifelong skills in math calculation," said organizer Mike Schoebinger, Educational Technologist for DoDEA Okinawa District. "We are most appreciative of the support Camp Kinser provided in allowing us to host this cultural event."



Myles Simpson, right, a 1st grade student at Bechtel Elementary School, solves a math problem during the 14th Annual Soroban Contest at Camp Kinser April 29. 

DoDEA Okinawa District Superintendent Michael Thompson pointed out the accuracy of the Soroban using an example from history. In a 1946 contest between a Soroban and an electronic calculator, which was state-of-the-art at the time, the Soroban proved more accurate in four of the five calculations.


Andrew Burrows, a 1st grade student at Bob Hope Primary School, writes out an answer during the 14th Annual Soroban Contest at Camp Kinser April 29. Andrew earned a perfect score on the written portion of the contest. 

"The skill with the Soroban develops a much better understanding of the numbers we all use to describe the world around us," said Thompson to students. "I encourage your continued interest and learning in the field of mathematics."


Megan Ehret, a 4th grade student at E.C. Killin Elementary School, receives a 2nd place award for the Anzan, or “Flash,” round of competition during the 14th Annual Soroban Contest at Camp Kinser April 29. 

About DoDEA Pacific:

The first organized schools for the children of U.S. military personnel serving in the Pacific were established in 1946 during post-World War II reconstruction. Throughout the decades, DoD schools evolved to become a comprehensive and high-performing K-12 school system solely dedicated to educating the children of America's heroes. Today, DoDEA Pacific's 49 schools serve over 23,500 children of U.S. military and eligible DoD civilian personnel families stationed throughout the Pacific theater. The DoDEA Pacific teaching, administrative and school support team includes more than 3,300 full-time professionals. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.

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The initiates and manages DoDEA's communications and outreach efforts for the Pacific to include Guam, Japan, Okinawa, South Korea. The office is responsible for media relations, internal information programs and communication with students, parents, teachers, school administrators and the public.