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His lessons are magic

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Part-time tutor uses it to teach science concepts

He performs magic not just to dazzle, but also to teach.

Part-time tuition teacher Duan Jiafei, 20, uses magic tricks to help his secondary school students visualise the science concepts they have learnt.

For example, to demonstrate the different densities between oil and water, the final year Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) student, who gives private tuition in chemistry, physics and additional mathematics, would perform a card trick to explain the concept.

"The main use of magic for me now is to teach," he said.

"I perform tricks accompanied by explanations of science concepts, and this leaves an impression on my students."

Mr Duan, who is pursuing a diploma in engineering science, has also performed magic at events in school and outside, including shows for the elderly in nursing homes.

He was the first and only recipient of the NP Character Award last Friday at the annual NP Awards Night 2015.

The award, introduced this year, recognises students who have worked to benefit others or the community.

The magic whiz discovered his passion for performing tricks before starting his first year in NP when he performed at the Direct Polytechnic Admission graduation ceremony.

"My partner and I put together a magic routine at the last minute. Our audience enjoyed it and this made me want to find out what more I could use magic for," said Mr Duan, who went on to join NP's Entertainers Club.

The club got him started with the basics and he has also learnt tricks on his own through books and DVDs.

"I'm still learning new tricks and hopefully, I can form more routines with them," he said.

One of Mr Duan's students, Megan Low, 16, who will be taking her O levels this year, said his methods of teaching serve as "memory tools". 

The Methodist Girls' School student, who has been having chemistry lessons with Mr Duan for six months, added: "His tricks help me to visualise science concepts."

Performing magic has also changed him as a person.

"I used to be quiet and shy in secondary school, and I wouldn't speak up in class.

"I couldn't imagine myself performing (in front of) hundreds of people back then. Magic has made me more confident."

They run four businesses at 18

ENTERPRISING: Identical twin sisters Yamunaa (left) and Yaamanni Kasavan, often make do with only three hours of sleep a night but they say it’s worth it.

Juggling online businesses on top of school, co-curricular activities (CCAs) and hobbies?

It's all worth it, said identical twin sisters Yamunaa and Yaamanni Kasavan, 18.

The final year Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) students run their main business, Pisti Prints - a printing service for apparel, brochures and flyers - alongside three other businesses in marketing, landscaping and logistics.

They run their businesses online with their brother, Mr Praashant Kasavan, 21, and four of his friends.

Pisti Prints, started about two years ago and chalked up $30,000 in revenue in its first three months. The sisters declined to disclose their current earnings.

"We just rented a factory and office space at Ark@Gambas, located in Woodlands. Renovations are going on and production work starts in September," said Miss Yaamanni, who is pursuing a diploma in real estate business.

The enterprising sisters received the Outstanding Enterprise Team Award at the NP Awards Night.

The twins have had a flair for business since primary school.

Between the age of nine and 12, they bought snacks from Malaysia and sold them to their peers.

After their O levels, they started a blogshop selling clothes from China and Korea.

"We have never made a loss... and this encourages us to sell more things," said Miss Yamunaa, who is pursuing a diploma in international business.

Miss Tan Cheng Leng, the manager of NP's Innovation & Entrepreneurship Office, praised the girls for their enterprising qualities. 

"It's not easy to start a business, and they started it while they're still studying. It takes a lot of determination and perseverance to see it through," she said.

"They've also showed a lot of initiative, on top of handling difficulties in their business and in schoolwork.

With their busy schedule, the sisters get about three hours of sleep each night.

They work till the wee hours and sometimes hold team meetings at 24-hour McDonald's outlets.

"If you like to do something, it's not a chore," said Miss Yaamanni.

They are thankful for their lecturers' guidance, as well as NP for providing them with a business grant and a discussion space in school for student entrepreneurs.

But it was their parents whom they are most grateful to.

"Our parents never told us to stop doing business and focus on our studies," said Miss Yaamanni.

He enjoys seeing 'arrows fly'

WINNER: Mr Zhang Jingkang, who graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic this year, won a bronze medal in archery at this year’s South-east Asia Games. PHOTO: NGEE ANN POLYTECHNIC

He went from knowing nothing about archery to winning a bronze medal in the sport at this year's South-east Asia Games.

Mr Zhang Jingkang, 21, first took up archery three years ago when he was a first-year student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP).

"At the beginning, I didn't think of winning competitions. I joined the NP Archery Club purely for fun and to make friends," said Mr Zhang, who won a bronze in the men's team recurve at the SEA Games in June.

He was awarded the Outstanding Sports Award last Friday.

Mr Zhang, who completed his diploma in marine and offshore technology earlier this year, is now serving his national service.

After just one year of training with the poly's Archery Club, he won three medals - one gold, one silver and one bronze - at the Polytechnic-ITE Games in 2012.

He then took part in the Asia Grand Prix in August last year and went on to represent Singapore at this year's SEA Games.

Mr Zhang told The New Paper: "Archery has improved my self-confidence and it gives me great physical and mental satisfaction."

His favourite thing about archery is "seeing the arrows fly".

"I also feel a sense of achievement when my arrows are grouped very tightly together on the target board."

Miss June Phoon, 38, staff adviser of NP's Archery Club, had nothing but praise for him.

"Jingkang is a very humble and down-to-earth guy with a gift for archery. He kept on learning even though he had achieved good results.

"He took his training sessions very seriously and worked very hard. It has all paid off," she said.


Mr Zhang was made vice-captain in his second year, and captain in his third year.

On him picking up archery at the age of 17, his archery coach, Ms Choi Mijin, 42, said strength, and not age, was most important in the sport.

"It doesn't matter what age you start learning. Archery equipment (the bow and arrow) is very heavy, about 20kg.

"Jingkang had the strength for it when he started out as he is a marathoner," explained Ms Choi, who has been coaching the sport for 13 years.

Mr Zhang also has a calm personality, making him a good fit for archery, she added.

"It is a very slow sport and he has the patience for it. He also has fighting spirit in him and doesn't ever give up."

Jingkang is a very humble and down-to-earth guy with a gift for archery. He kept on learning even though he had achieved good results.

- Miss June Phoon, staff adviser of the archery club

SingaporeDuan JiafeiNgee Ann PolytechnicmagicTuitionNP Character Award