It’s difficult for a 6-year-old to adjust to first grade when he’s already read “Barron’s AP Calculus,” “Organic Chemistry Demystified” and “Practical Electronics for Inventors.”
But that’s what happened to Benyamin “Beny” Bamburac of Romeoville, now 10 and a full-time Joliet Junior College student working on his associate degree.
“While they were doing 2 plus 2, he was trying to teach the teacher chemistry,” Beny’s father George Bamburac recalled. “So they were putting him aside. He came home sad, saying that in every class he was by himself because he was disturbing the other kids.”
So the Bamburacs enrolled Beny in a homeschool program, which Beny finished in two years, George said.
“It took him 10 months to do the high school math – all four years,” George said. “I did not want him to stop with math, so I took him to JJC, and they said, ‘OK, we can give him a placement test.”
A news release from JJC said Beny took calculus and finite math last year at the college and is a full-time student this semester. Beny is enjoying classes with students who are, in many cases, almost twice as old as he is, because he is learning “higher level stuff,” he said.
“The professors are nice,” Beny said. “The chair of the math department is helping me a lot. Everyone goes way beyond their jobs to help. The building is very nice with glass windows everywhere.”
Beny is one of three children. He has a 14-year-old sibling and a 4-year-old sibling, and no one is envious of Beny, George said. The 14-year-old is also smart in math and in informational technology, but he doesn’t have the same passion for math as Beny does, George said.
Why the passion for math?
“Because math is more creative than the other subjects,” Beny said. “There are many ways to find the answers.”
Although finding the answer (as opposed to the process of finding it) is Beny’s favorite part of math, he said.
George said Beny’s thirst for learning began when he was a baby, after another family passed along their reading DVDs to them, which Beny enjoyed watching. By 8 months, he was reading fluently, George said. Beny also had a solid understanding the of the Hebrew alphabet, Beny’s mother, Sally Bamburac, said.
At age 4, Beny discovered the “Math Antics” YouTube channel, which Beny turned on each morning and played “until it went off,” George said. Beny also quickly grasped Gematria. This is a “Jewish form of numerology in which the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are substituted with corresponding numbers,” according to the Yale University Library.
By age 5, Beny loved playing with Snap Circuits toys, which taught Beny “basic engineering, electronics and circuitry concepts,” the release said.
Still, one of Beny’s favorite toys was a white board and marker because he could work equations on it, Sally said.
“When we’d go in the car, he’d bring a notebook and pencil and give me equations to solve,” Sally said. “I told him, ‘I’m too tired.’”
George said a math professor once tested Beny’s abilities by asking Beny random questions, including questions on material that hadn’t been covered in class yet. The professor then wrote an equation on the board and asked Beny if he could solve it.
“He said, ‘I cannot solve it because you wrote it wrong,’” George said. “So she said, ‘I’m sorry’ and corrected it.”
An average 10-year-old in other ways
Linda Blanco, JJC math department chair, said in a release from JJC that she has “really enjoyed getting to know the Bamburac family.”
“[Beny] has told me about his other interests which include assisting his dad in writing a book, visits to Wisconsin Dells, dune climbing and blueberry picking in Michigan,” Blanco said in the release.
Beny said he also enjoys playing volleyball, and he is learning to swim.
“I also like to code,” Beny said.
Beny also likes to read, if the books are interesting, he said. And he’s quite definite on the type of books he finds interesting.
“Math books,” Beny said.
The family studies scripture together and collaborated on a multivolume commentary on the Torah, a 10-year-project they would like to publish, George said.
What happens to Beny once he graduates from JJC? He might be heading to the university, George said, adding that a Chicago professor wants to meet with him. Beny himself doesn’t have future plans; he just wants to do more math, he said.
However, Beny is still 10 years old, and, except for his academic abilities, he is indistinguishable from other 10-year-old children, George said.
“I describe him as 100% genius and 100% kid,” Blanco said in the release.