Mexican named 'The Jobs Girl'

Mexican named 'The Jobs Girl'
Twelve years old Paloma Noyola listens to instructions during a two-day National Mental Math Calculation Championships at the Technologic of Monterrey campus.

Mexico has found a new heroine, from a state plagued by drug violence: A 12-year-old math whiz who was dubbed "The Next Steve Jobs" by a US magazine.

The youngest of eight children from a modest family, Paloma Noyola was thrown under the media spotlight when Wired, a magazine which focuses on emerging technologies, featured her on its cover two weeks ago.

She has appeared in national newspapers and on cable news, dubbed "La Nina Jobs" - "The Jobs Girl" - with photographers and cameramen chasing the girl nicknamed after Apple's late founder.

This week, she travelled from her hometown of Matamoros, in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, to the hustle and bustle of Mexico City for a mental maths competition.

She said: "I'm very happy. If you want it, you can do it."

With so much attention on the girl, Tamaulipas state officials who flew in with her shielded Noyola from the press pack.

She sat alone at a large table and was whisked away after the contest organised by the Tecnologico de Monterrey university ended. She did not win the contest. Last year, the girl, whose school lies next to a dump across the US border, wowed the country when she scored the maximum 921 in the national standardised exam, the best in Mexico.

Her father died of lung cancer last year and her family earns an income from selling scrap metal and food in Matamoros, a city tormented for years by a turf war between drug cartels, AFP reported.

While Paloma made the cover of Wired, it was her teacher's radical methods that featured prominently in the magazine's story.

Mr Sergio Juarez Correa, 32, saw the Spanish and maths scores of his entire class dramatically improve after he implemented a new approach, allowing students to tap into their own curiosity and self-learning to solve problems.

He took inspiration from the "minimally invasive education" concept of Mr Sugata Mitra, a professor of educational technology at Britain's Newcastle University.

While Paloma garnered attention for acing the national exam last year, nine other students scored more than 900 in the maths test.


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