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Students compete in math game

April 29, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - With shoulders hunched and elbows on the table, students bit their lips in thought Thursday as silence befitting a library filled the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center at Hagerstown Community College.

Quiet assertions of "Got it" preceded hesitant dissertations of numbers as a crowd of proud parents watched their children take on the competition in a game of mathematic finesse.

About 250 fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade students from the county vied for the title of champion during tournament play of a game that challenges participants to find ways to make four numbers printed on a card equal 24.

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"When you put your mind into action, it's very fun," Shawn Shroyer said.

Shawn, 10, a Sharpsburg Elementary School fifth-grader, and sixth-grader Snigdha Rao, 12, and seventh-grader Joey Barvir, 13, both of Smithsburg Middle School, took home top honors after four rounds of Game 24.

Students, who competed at tables of four, raced each other to figure out formulas that would make a card's four digits equal 24. Each time an answer was offered, a proctor seated at the table flipped a new card, prompting another round of mental gymnastics.

Students said it takes a lot practice to succeed at the game.

"Practiced every day, during lunch, after school, anytime I could, I would practice," Joey said as he admired a shiny silver dollar he won in the competition.

For Linda Reese, grandmother of one 10-year-old participant, the game is a little too brain-boggling.

"My mind doesn't work this way," said Reese, who traveled from her home in Bonita Springs, Fla., to watch her granddaughter, Fountain Rock Elementary School fifth-grader Julie Harsh, compete.

"I wouldn't have missed it for all the world," Reese said during the second round of competition.

Competitors played two rounds of 20 minutes each to determine who would go on to the playoffs - two elimination rounds of 10 minutes each.

Greg Eversole, a math student achievement specialist at E. Russell Hicks Middle School who helped organize the first event in 1991, said it brings "a little excitement to math."

Smithsburg Middle School seventh-grader Evan Dennis, 13, said competition makes math even more fun.

"Math is fun, and like, I like doing it. It's fun, and this adds a lot of suspense to it," Dennis said.

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