Prodigy boy, 9, scores A* for two O-level maths papers

Anthony Yip Aquathlon 2012Anthony Yip took two O-level mathematics papers last year as a private candidate and scored A* in both. He was then nine and a Primary 4 pupil at Henry Park Primary School.

He says he finished the two-hour papers much earlier than his older peers but did not want to draw attention to himself by handing in the paper first. He says: “I waited till the first person handed in the paper, then I handed in mine.”

His father, orthopaedic surgeon Kevin Yip, 51, says the boy had three months’ worth of twice-weekly tutoring before the examinations. The O-level examinations are normally done by those nine years older.

“We were just trying him out to see if he was a prodigy like his siblings,” says Dr Yip, who is married to Dr Joanna Lin, 49, an oncologist.




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Dr. Kevin Yip on Minimising The Risk of Osteoporosis

A recent contribution by Dr. Kevin Yip for an article written by the team at Great Eastern’s health portal.

The Bare Bones of Health

When your mother nagged you to eat your broccoli, she was right in more ways than she knew. Besides its cancer-fighting properties, the cruciferous vegetable helps the body store calcium in the bones to make them denser.

Storing calcium is important to keep our bones strong. Strong bones aren’t only less prone to breaking, but also offer a stable support structure for muscles and the body. If there isn’t enough calcium in the diet, the body takes calcium from the bones, causing bones to become weak and thin. As we age, bones also lose the ability to retain calcium, leading to a brittle bone condition known as osteoporosis that increased the risk of fractures in the hip, spine, and wrist.

According to the Health Promotion Board, the cases of hip fractures in Singapore over the last 30 years have increased five times in women aged 50 and above. In men, the rate of hip fractures has risen 1.5 times in men of the same age group. This is a worrying trend as hip fractures in the elderly increase the risk of being bed ridden or immobile and studies indicate that one in every five elderly people with osteoporotic hip fracture die within a year.

‘Bank’ your bones

Taking care of our bones from a young age helps to minimise the risk of osteoporosis. Just as a young child keeps a piggy bank to save coins, our young bones have their own “calcium bank account” that stores as much calcium as possible during the teenage years to help reach a peak bone mass. This bank account closes after the age of 18 and we are no longer able to add any more calcium to our bones, but maintain what is already deposited.

To prevent the body from making too many withdrawals from our bone bank and causing a deficit that leads to osteoporosis, our diets need to maintain adequate calcium intake. Apart from dairy products which may not be suitable for the lactose intolerant, Dr Kevin Yip from the Singapore Sports and Orthopaedic Clinic suggests other calcium-rich foods such as fish with soft bones (sardines) or tofu. To maximise calcium absorption, avoid eating too much protein or salt, as large quantities of these are related to a loss of calcium.

Even with a calcium-enriched diet, our body cannot absorb the calcium consumed unless it gets enough vitamin D. Inadequate vitamin D in the body contributes to bone loss and hinders efforts to combat osteoporosis. The best way to obtain sufficient vitamin D is 30-minutes of outdoor sunshine a day.

Exercise can also help, especially resistance exercises such as weight training, Tai Chi and stair-climbing – all load-bearing low impact activities that make you move against gravity and thus build up bone density.

Smoking and excessive alcohol should also be avoided. Excessive drinking can reduce bone formation, while the chemicals in cigarettes are bad for the bone cells. In women especially, smoking can prevent oestrogen from protecting the bones.

Doing health checkups on the bones is also important. Effective treatment or prevention of osteoporosis can only take place only when a person knows if he or she is at risk for it.

Because women are more prone to osteoporosis after the age of 40, Dr Yip recommends women to do a regular Bone Mineral Density scan. The importance of screening is all the more important because osteoporosis is also known as the “silent disease” that occurs without obvious symptoms and draws attention only when a bone is broken. “Most alarmingly, osteoporosis can cause sudden fractures during everyday activities that would not have otherwise affected normal bone …This is where the danger lies, as most people would not know about their osteoporotic condition until a major fracture occurs, often with devastating effects,” said Dr Yip.

Original article at The Live Great Health & Wellness Portal.

The wonder kids I

The children in the Yip family seem to have patented scoring As in O-level examinations a little ahead of time.

Bryan Yip, 14, collected 10 As and pass grades in two other subjects, while his sister Michelle, 12, scored five As and pass grades in another two subjects.

O-level candidates are typically 16 years old.

Being advanced seems to run in the family: their mother, Dr Joanna Lin, 43, finished her O levels at 14 and her A levels at 17.

The siblings are among just 10 young people in the last three years – mainly international students – who have taken an O- or A-level exam earlier than usual at the British Council.

The council offers O- and A-level exams by Cambridge International Examinations and the London Edexcel Board, which administers educational qualifications in Britain.

The Ministry of Education here, which administers the Singapore-Cambridge O- and A-level exams, said that in the last five years, fewer than five students a year took its exam at a younger-than-usual age. The youngest for its O levels was 14, and for its A levels, 16.

Dr Lin, an oncologist from Malaysia, and her husband, Dr Kevin Yip, 45, an orthopaedic surgeon from Hong Kong, are permanent residents who moved here in 1996.

In June last year, the couple got Bryan to take Edexcel O-level papers in English, Chinese, Biology and Human Biology; they signed up Michelle for the Chinese paper ‘just to try it out’.

Dr Lin said: ‘Their work looked like it might be good enough for the O levels.’

Their results – two As and two Bs for Bryan, and a C for Michelle – encouraged the couple to sign them up for more papers.

Over the following year, Bryan took both Edexcel and Cambridge International exams in Geography, History and Chemistry, and Cambridge International papers in Maths and Physics – and scored As in all.

Michelle took both exam boards’ papers in Biology and Maths, an Edexcel paper in Human Biology and a Cambridge International one in Chinese. She scored As in all except Chinese.

Dr Yip said: ‘They’re just regular children who love playing computer games and SMS-ing their friends.’

His wife added that the general level of education here was of a high standard, and that ‘their classmates could probably do as well if they took the exams’.

To let the children focus on the exams, their parents took them out of school this year to be tutored at home.

Bryan was in Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), and Michelle, at Henry Park Primary School.

Bryan, who plans to become a doctor like his parents, said: ‘It feels quite good that what others are slogging over for four years, I’ve done in one and a half.’

Michelle said: ‘Not having homework is kind of nice, but I miss my friends.’

So their parents have placed them back in school, but in Britain.

Last month, they started lessons at Concord College in Shropshire. Bryan is preparing for four A-level subjects, while Michelle will do more O-level papers and start preparations for the A levels too.

Dr Yip plans on having them back here for their university studies.

In the Yip home here, the youngest of the brood seems likely to carry on the family tradition: Anthony, at five, is already reading encyclopaedias by himself.


This article was originally published in Asia One.