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24 Math Game tests minds of students

April 25, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Aside from being gifted in math, three Washington County students had another thing in common Wednesday afternoon.

None expected to come out victorious in the 10th annual 24 Game Math Challenge, a contest that challenges students to turn four numbers on a card into the number 24 through addition, subtraction, multiplication or division without using a pen or paper.

"No, I didn't think I would win," said Jaci Kline, who claimed first place in the fifth-grade contest. "It's hard, especially the third and fourth rounds."

Jaci, 10, a student at Maugansville Elementary School, said her math teacher, Kimberlee Ballenger, helped her develop her knack for the subject.

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Approximately 250 Washington County public school students in fifth, sixth and seventh grades participated in the four-round competition at the Athletic Recreation and Community Center at Hagerstown Community College.

Sixth-grade winner Robert Wolfe III, of Smithsburg Middle School, said he practiced every day for the game but didn't think he'd win his grade level.

"It takes a lot of work," Robert said.

Robert said he likes math because "there's always something new to learn."

Christopher Davis, 12, who won the seventh-grade competition, said he thought he would be a runner-up, where he finished in last year's game as a sixth-grader. He also competed as a fifth-grader.

A student at Smithsburg Middle School, Christopher said he was happy after he found out he won.

"I didn't think I was going to make it to the final four in the first place," he said. "I felt kind of good about winning."

He said he didn't feel much pressure during the game.

"I've played for three years, and I've kind of gotten over getting nervous about it," he said.

Leslie Hobbs, supervisor of mathematics for Washington County Public Schools, said the competition hones analytical skills.

"The kids are just thinking so hard," Hobbs said. "It helps them deal with sense."

Ann Shipway, director of continuing education at HCC, said she likes to see children challenge themselves.

"They're using their minds. They're not watching TV," said Shipway, who has helped coordinate the game for the last six years. "Math is such an important foundation for success."

Farmers & Merchants Bank and Trust has been the main sponsor of the game since it began in Washington County.

"We just believe very strongly in supporting our educational system and supporting the kids," said Matt Weaver, vice president of F&M Bank. "We've got these kids that are math whizzes. Maybe they could be future bankers someday."

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