Piece of pi for this 14-year-old doing the HSC

Brad Neimann, a year 8 student at Masada College, who is on track to sit his maths, maths extension 1 and physics HSC exams this year, and finish his HSC by the end of next year. Brad is one of the youngest students to sit HSC exams this year. 3rd october 2017 Photo by Louise kennerley .
Brad Neimann, a year 8 student at Masada College, who is on track to sit his maths, maths extension 1 and physics HSC exams this year, and finish his HSC by the end of next year. Brad is one of the youngest students to sit HSC exams this year. 3rd october 2017 Photo by Louise kennerley .

When Brad Neimann was in year 2, he was doing year 5 maths. When he was in year 6, he became the first student to complete a Stanford University online maths course with full marks.

Now, one year after he started year 7, Brad is getting ready to sit his maths, maths extension 1 and physics HSC exams.

The 14-year-old is one of the youngest students sitting more than one exam this year, and plans to finish his HSC next year.

"I'm also taking year 11 chemistry, software design and development, and English standard [this year], and next year I'll also be taking four-unit maths," Brad said.

Brad, who is a student at Masada College in Sydney's north, was initially enrolled in year 7 classes last year but he moved to year 11 classes during the year.

"I would have sat in the classes re-learning stuff I already knew [if I'd stayed in year 7]," Brad said.

"Apart from English I've been finding it quite easy, but I've never been good at exams."

He said he is hoping to refine his exam technique by the time he starts maths extension 2 next year, which he is looking forward to studying.

"I'm really hoping it will be a bit more challenging," Brad said.

Brad's mother, Belinda Neimann, said she realised he "needed something special in terms of his schooling when he started solving complex maths problems in year 1".

Mrs Neimann said that in addition to his schoolwork, Brad also reads voraciously and spends a few hours every afternoon self-learning subjects he's interested in, such as linguistics, cosmology and geology.

Brad said he has recently been "doing a lot of research into advance maths programming and coding" in his spare time.

He said he is also "a very keen drummer" and is in the school's jazz band.

"And I play tennis once a week as a way of doing something more athletic, but I don't really enjoy sports," Brad said.

He said he has been going to university open days and is currently looking at science or maths degrees.

"I'm also looking at programming degrees and mechatronics but I don't really know what I want to do yet, we'll just have to see," Brad said.

Masada's principal Wendy Barel said that this is "the first time we've accelerated someone in year 7 to year 11.

"The teachers were excited because it's a challenge for them too," Mrs Barel said.

The youngest student taking a single HSC subject this year is an 11-year-old student who is doing maths. There is also one 12-year-old student and three 14-year-old students, including Brad, who are doing HSC maths subjects.

Brad's maths teacher David Steel said having a young student in the classroom "was a bit of a novelty at first".

"A lot of the students were looking at this 12-year-old boy and wondering whether he was lost, wondering what on earth he was doing in the classroom," Mr Steel said.

"They quickly found out he has a lot of opinions and knowledge."

Mr Steel said the biggest challenge for Brad is that "he takes a lot of time over problems and thinks about them a lot".

"The other students have had the benefits of four or five years of foundation maths and built up their exam technique but Brad does it off the cuff."

This story Piece of pi for this 14-year-old doing the HSC first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.