Counting on the abacus


Tiffany Lee

Junior Alec Chung volunteers with the United Abacus Arithmetic Association.

Students typically use a calculator to perform math calculations, but the Abacus Club at Diamond Bar High School are hoping to bring back the traditional method of using the abacus instead.

Led by junior president Alec Chung and senior vice president Andy Tseng, the club was established in February.

“People who don’t know the abacus could also join the club,” Chung said. “I only called it the Abacus Club because most of our volunteer work is associated with using the abacus.”

Chung is a part of a nonprofit organization known as the United Abacus Arithmetic Association. It is a volunteer program that focuses on teaching children how to use the abacus and how to improve their mental math in general. Chung typically spends around three to four hours every Saturday there.

Senior volunteer coordinator Justin Hsu is also president of the United Abacus Arithmetic Youth Association, a specific division for the youth that was established by the UAAA.

Despite the fact that the abacus is an unpopular tool to use for calculations, Chung said he believes that it benefits students by helping them build their mental math capabilities.

“Abacus helps you because it gives that image in your mind and it will help you in mental math,” Chung said. “It will be especially useful for the non-calculator portion of the SAT test.”

The UAAA has held hundreds of events since 1996 and provided many volunteer opportunities for their members. Their most recent event was the 2019 UAAA International Global Cup Abacus and Mental Arithmetic Championship, held in January, which had hundreds of contestants from different countries competing in abacus and mental math.

Besides from hosting competitions in different countries, the UAAA also organizes assessment tests for the Abacus Club. A few members from the club volunteered to take an assessment test to complete their level of abacus and mental math capabilities and receive a certificate. Other students, ranging from kindergarteners to high schoolers, visited Diamond Bar High School on May 8 to take this test as well.

According to Chung, students that are interested in pursuing a business career are recommended to join the Abacus Club because they will be able to continue their interests by sharpening their skills with the tool.

“I do want to go into a business major, specifically entrepreneurship or finance,” Chung shared. “Finance deals with a lot of numbers, and I feel that I’m really good with that because of the abacus.”