Quickness counts in 24 Game

April 24, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

Twenty minutes, four challengers, a deck of multinumbered cards and a knack for math equaled 24 for more than 200 student number-crunchers Wednesday.

The 11th Annual 24 Game Math Challenge at Hagerstown Community College's ARCC quizzed county fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade students on ways they could add, subtract, multiply or divide four numbers to equal the number 24 - all without the use of calculators or paper and pencil.

The three tournament winners, determined through multiple rounds of eliminations, were: Cortney Silvis, a fifth-grader at Pleasant Valley Elementary School, Steven Wolfe, a sixth-grader at Grace Academy, and Robert Wolfe, III, a seventh-grader at Grace Academy, who won for the third year in a row.


Students sat spread out through the ARCC in tables of four accompanied by a proctor, who dealt one card with four numbers written on each one.

Four, 2, 11 and 11 were written on a card placed in front of Jacob Shriver, 10, a fifth-grader at Smithsburg Elementary School.

He tapped his finger on the card. "Eleven plus 11 equals 22. Four minus two equals two. Twenty-two plus two equals 24," he said.

Shriver won the card. He earned 45 points in the first round, the highest at his table. He wasn't stressed out, he said.

The more than 200 students at the ARCC Wednesday had qualified for the tournament by out-calculating their classmates in schoolwide competitions.

Marianne Sites, 46, watched her son Zachary Nelson, 12, of Clear Spring Middle School compete against a group of seventh-graders.

The entire gym was silent and Sites was about 20 feet away from her son.

She said she knew when he won a card because she could see him talk and scoop it into his pile. Sites moved to get closer to her son. She also brought a zoom-lens camera.

Jon Russo, 17, a senior at Smithsburg High School, was a tournament finalist when he was in middle school and has returned since to help proctor for the tournament.

"It keeps you thinking and it's fun to watch," he said.

Russo coaches Smithsburg Elementary School students on the rules and tricks of the game.

Sharpsburg Elementary School math teacher and tournament proctor Kim Rishell said competitors often watch for patterns, like 6 times 4, 18 plus 6, and 8 times 3.

Farmers and Merchants Bank and Trust provided individualized certificates and Proforma Correct Choice Printers provided "24" T-shirts for each of the competitors. Farmers and Merchants Bank and Trust awarded the top 48 students with handheld calculators and awarded the final 12 students with a state quarter set and a medallion imprinted with their name.

Farmers and Merchants Bank and Trust President Bob Ernst said it was amazing to watch students crunch numbers so quickly.

"Math is the root of more than just understanding how to solve a math problem," he said. "The ability to solve math problems helps them with every other phase of their education."

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