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Math students vie for honors in 'nerve-racking' competition

April 29, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Washington County's top math students competed at the 12th Annual 24 Game Math Challenge on Wednesday.

Approximately 250 fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders from more than 40 area schools spent the afternoon in the Athletic Recreation and Community Center at Hagerstown Community College vying for the winning spot for each grade level.

"It was nerve-racking," said Tyler Myers, a Williamsport Elementary School student who took first place in the fifth-grade competition. "My dad's favorite subject is math, so I got into math and ended up here.

"I also gave up my recesses to study math and prepare," he said.

About 200 parents, teachers and others watched as the students raced the clock in 20-minute rounds. Students used addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to combine four numbers on separate cards to get a total of 24. They weren't allowed to use paper and pencil to make their calculations.

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Students scored based on their speed in figuring out formulas that got them to 24.

After a three-hour competition, a first-place winner and three semi-finalists were recognized for each grade level. Each received a medal and a silver dollar.

Steven Wolfe, a student at Grace Academy in Hagerstown, took first place in the seventh-grade competition. Wolfe was last year's sixth-grade winner in the math challenge.

"This year was harder than last year," Wolfe said.

He said he studied 20 minutes a night to sharpen his math skills.

Grace Academy students spent six months preparing for the competition.

"We chose our best students or the ones who were most prepared to come to the competition based on their scores during practice," said Grace Academy sixth-grade teacher Alicia Womack.

Educators at the event applauded the annual math challenge. Many said it increases interest in math and helps build confidence in students.

"Mental math games will help students form strategies and see math patterns," said Traci Litten, a teacher at E. Russell Hicks Middle School.

"In Washington County, our students are performing very well in math compared to students in other parts of the state," said Leslie Hobbs, supervisor of secondary mathematics for Washington County Public Schools.

Farmers and Merchants Bank and Trust, the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and Hagerstown Community College were event sponsors.

"I'm always amazed to see the future bankers out here putting numbers together," said Robert E. Ernst II, Farmers and Merchants president and chief executive officer.

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