ISRA 2020
ISRA 2020

Exact science teacher: Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash Jonnalagadda

EducationWorld May 2020 | People

Math prodigy Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash Jonnalagadda (20) is a final year B.Sc student of Delhi’s top-ranked St. Stephen’s College. He is also founder of Exploring Infinities (EI, estb.2018), a proprietary firm promoted to boost children’s cognitive development and popularise speed mental arithmetics and games through workshops and year-long courses in schools.

Newspeg. EI is offering gamified learning modules on mobile apps to enhance cognitive abilities such as memory, sensory precision and mental computation skills. It is all set to roll out its first gaming app, which NBPJ says will banish maths phobia of class I-XII students. The app’s design is the outcome of data and feedback from students of several government and private schools with which the firm has been interacting over the past three years.

History. The first son of Hyderabad based couple J. Srinivas (a food processing company promoter) and J. Hema Shiva Parvathi (a businesswoman), NBPJ suffered an accident when he was five, in which he sustained severe head injuries and was bed-ridden for almost a year. During his convalescence, his doting parents introduced arithmetic puzzles and mental exercises to distract him and ease his pain.

Soon Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash Jonnalagadda developed a passion for complex mathematical calculations. At age 12, he was crowned national math champion in Bangalore (2011) and Pune (2012). The following year he won an Arithmetic Prodigy Championship 2013 in Singapore, and went on to break five math world records and 50 Limca Book of Records in mental math racing past math maestros like Scott Flansburg and Shakuntala Devi.

While a student of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Public School, Hyderabad, young NBPJ began conducting math learning classes for students and corporate executives. At age 15, he co-founded Iscreamers Frozen Kingdom, an ice-cream startup.

“Mathematics is an exact science which greatly speeds mental growth. Regular practice greatly improves decision-making skills, efficiency and memory. Arithmetic exercise is the key to unlock the infinite potential of the
brain,” says this maths wunderkind. 

Direct talk. “I founded Exploring Infinities in 2018 by conducting workshops and courses in schools. In 2019, as an outreach project in 25 government schools of Telangana, EI helped 10,000 students to get over their math phobia. Soon we were invited by private schools for longer engagements. We believe that improvement in arithmetic skills
translates into enhanced cognitive development. Now EI is ready to launch an arithmetic gaming app to develop math skills of all school students. The app hosts a repository of offline exercises and games to make maths learning an enjoyable pastime,” says NBPJ who is intensifying his research on the connection between arithmetic and child cognition.

Future plans. Scheduled to graduate next year, NBPJ has big plans for scaling his “social enterprise”. “I  plan to scale up the operations of EI because India has an ancient tradition of maths learning and development. 
Unfortunately, because of misguided drill-and-skill pedagogies, math anxiety has become pervasive in children. I want to enable India’s children to rediscover their inherent but suppressed love of learning maths,” says this earnest and enterprising prodigy.

Autar Nehru (Delhi)

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