David's words add up
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, David Wang topped 44 other spelling bee finalists during the countywide spelling bee. The state spelling bee competition will be held on March 27.

Among other things, David Wang is good at chess and ping-pong.

He'll play some table tennis after school. Then, once he gets home, he'll be studying math and spelling, because later this month, the 12-year-old will be representing Pima County in the state spelling bee and Southern Arizona in the MathCounts state competition.

Last month, the sixth-grade student topped 44 other district finalists during the countywide spelling bee. He also finished in the top 10 to become a MathCounts state finalist.

David, who is about five feet tall, is a little nervous about the upcoming state spelling competition.

"I don't want to disappoint or let anyone down and get a word and spell it wrong," he said.

So, in preparation for the state spelling bee on March 27, David has been practicing spelling words, with the help of his mom at home and the help of his classmates at the Sonoran Science Academy, adding to about 45 minutes each day.

"My teacher had some of my classmates quiz me with the words and also I looked at previous spelling bees to see how to spell the words that they've used," he said.

Words that have been giving him a little trouble are German and Slavic in origin, because "sometimes they have extra letters in there when they sound like there shouldn't be."

An example he gives is "schottische," which sounds like "shaw-tish." He doesn't know the meaning, and he doesn't have to know it's a slow, polka-like dance. He just needs to know how to spell it correctly.

"I am very surprised for his spelling bee achievement," his mother Karen said, because she and her husband Ke aren't native English speakers. They moved to America from China about 20 years ago. "I didn't know he was that good."

Karen said spelling comes easy to David because he has a good memory. There is some given ability; he didn't prepare for his school spelling bee at all.

"It made me happy," the 12-year-old said about winning the Pima County Spelling Bee. "Well, I think I was happiest about the 50-dollar prize."

When asked how he can spell words better than other people, David simply says "natural talent." But it's not in an arrogant or smug manner; he honestly thinks he is just good at spelling words. He's "all right" at ping-pong, though he usually wins against his friends. David also enjoys the piano and soccer.

He's good at math, too.

David placed seventh in the Southern Arizona MathCounts competition last month, advancing with nine others to the state competition on March 13. In MathCounts, contestants try to use simple math to solve larger, more-complex math questions. With David's help, the Sonoran Science Academy team won the team title.

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