BARRINGTON – Brothers Aman and Arjun Asija are no strangers to academic success.
"They've always done well in school," said their mother, Rajni Asija.
She and her husband, Sanjay, add that both boys are independent and don't require many reminders or help to get homework done.
"They're always motivated," Rajni Asija added.
This year, however, the boys proved their abilities on a much larger stage by placing well in the World Education Games.
The event started in March 2007 when the first World Maths Day competition was held. In that first 48-hour competition, 287,000 students competed from 98 countries. Since then, World Literacy Day and World Science Day have been added and in 2012, 5.5 million students registered to participate in the games.
To participate, teachers can register classes or students can register on their own. Once the competition starts, students around the world complete challenges in math, literacy or science.
Questions have different degrees of difficulty, and points are awarded for correct answers. Participants have 48 hours to complete as many challenges as they want, though only the first 50 are counted toward the final points tally. Students who place in the top 10 of each category in each age group win medals.
Georgia Nelson, a fifth-grade teacher at Hough Elementary, said she stumbled across World Maths Day on the Internet several years ago.
"It's always good to generate enthusiasm about math," she said. "They have fun. They can play each other and people around the whole world."
Aman, an eighth-grader at Station Middle School, first competed when he was in Nelson's fifth-grade class as part of a mandatory assignment. When Arjun, who is now in fifth grade with Nelson, had to compete, Aman decided to try again as well.
Arjun placed 67th out of more than a million kids around the world. He was one of only seven Americans in his age group to make it into the top 100.
Aman competed in World Literacy Day and World Science Day. In World Science Day, he earned a seventh-place finish, making him second out of all the Americans in the science competition. He also placed 42nd in World Literacy Day. He will receive a gold medal for his finish in science and a certificate for both.
Rajni Asija said her sons often win things but she doesn't like to publicize it, despite how proud she is of them. That's a little harder this time around: Friends have told her pictures of her sons are posted on the school's Facebook page.
Aman's skills are in math: The eighth-grader already is taking high school math.
"Starting in sixth-grade I started going to the high school," Aman said. "Every morning I go to the high school and get transferred back to the middle school."
In third and fourth grade, he took the Continental Mathematics League test, scoring a perfect 36. In fifth grade, Arjun points out, Aman got 35. He applied to the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora for next year, and if he gets in – he'll find out in April — he won't have to do ninth grade.
Sanjay Asija says Aman also likes to do computer animation.
"I used to make little games that weren't great at all. Just very simple ones like 'Pong' or 'Bricks,'" Aman said.
Arjun doesn't share the same desire for first place as his older brother. While he said he didn't prefer any particular subject, he said he is good at geography.
"I have to know where the places are because we get tested on that," he said. "But it's also kind of interesting to learn how they live."
While he doesn't think science is his best subject, he thinks he might want to grow up to be a neurologist because "the brain just interests me."
Next year, if Arjun decides to make a run for the top of World Maths Day, he'll be the youngest in his age group and have to defeat students several years older.