Local students attend Japanese-American soroban contest
Yokosuka Navy Base, Japan About 150 Students from several local area Department of Defense Schools (DoDEA) elementary schools and several local Japanese elementary schools attended a local Soroban contest on Friday, March 27, 2015.
The contest was sponsored by the Yokohama branch of the Soroban Association of Japan. The Japanese schools were from the Kanagawa Prefecture and the American Schools included Ikego Elementary School and Sullivans Elementary School from Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) , John O. Arnn Elementary School of Sagamihara Housing Area, Camp Zama and Shirley Lanham Elementary School from Naval Air Station Atsugi. The contest was held at Kanagawa Kenritsu Hoken Fukushi Daigaku, the Kanagawa University of Human Services in Yokosuka.
After school students from 3rd through 5th grade participated in the contest which included written and oral questions. Mrs. Dana Chandler, one of the oral questioners and Sullivans Elementary School Principal stated, “It's a great opportunity for our American students to learn about the Japanese abacus, while also giving them a real life experience with the Japanese culture. We so much appreciate the Soroban Association of Japan for giving our students this wonderful day!”
The soroban, or counting tray, is an abacus developed in Japan. It was derived from the Chinese suanpan, and was imported to Japan in the 14th century. The Soroban has an interesting history of fostering Japanese American relations. On November 12, 1946, a postwar contest was held in Tokyo between the Japanese soroban, used by Kiyoshi Matsuzaki, and an electric calculator, operated by United States Army Private Thomas Nathan Wood. The basis for scoring in the contest was speed and accuracy of results in the four basic arithmetic operations with one additional problem which combined all four. The soroban won 4 to 1, with the electric calculator prevailing only in multiplication.
DoDEA Pacific provides a comprehensive preK-12 education to the children of military and eligible civilian personnel families serving throughout Asia. The 50 schools in DoDEA Pacific are composed of more than 23,500 students and 3,400 professional educators and support staff. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea. The Sullivans School is the largest school in DoDEA with a student body of approximately 1200 in grades K-5.