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24 is the name of game

For sharp students, all paths lead to 24

For sharp students, all paths lead to 24

May 10, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - It's a game that NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, actor Kiefer Sutherland and baseball great Willie Mays might enjoy - assuming they like math.

Starring .... the number 24.

Washington County students gathered at Hagerstown Community College on Wednesday to stare at jumbles of digits. They tinkered with mathematical formulas - adding and dividing, cubing and square-rooting - until the numbers lined up just the right way.

Each time, the answer had to be 24. Winners had to see and explain the correct path first.

This was the 17th year that the county's public school fifth- , sixth- and seventh-graders competed in the 24 Challenge, coordinator Robin Mulligan said. Private schools took part this year, too.

She said students enjoy the Challenge, piecing together numbers like puzzles.

The best students "can see connections to create the magical number 24," said Greg Eversole, a math student achievement specialist at E. Russell Hicks Middle School, an emcee at the event.

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Two rounds narrowed the field from about 200 to 48.

Eversole announced who was left, calling them down from the bleachers as if he was at "The Price is Right." The crowd cheered for each name.

At tables set up on the basketball court at HCC's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center, students exerted mental muscles.

In a tight seventh-grade final, Jeffrey Morrison of E. Russell Hicks grabbed a bunch of points near the end.

When the clock ran out, Jeffrey, victorious, tilted his head back and celebrated.

The sixth-grade winner was Matthew Hassler of Springfield Middle School. Mark Leadingham of Sharpsburg Elementary School won the fifth-grade division.

Among fifth-grade alternates, Amanda Frey, also of Sharpsburg Elementary School, did the best.

Lexi Yoder, another Sharpsburg fifth-grader, was the only girl among the 12 finalists for all three grades.

She said she practiced after school and at lunch for about three weeks.

For Lexi, practicing meant looking at 24 Game cards whenever possible, including at the dinner table and before bed, said her father, Leon.

"For the past week, she's fallen asleep with them," he said. "She's a very determined girl."

Orin Kuehl of Greenbrier Elementary School, another fifth-grade finalist, got his first taste of 24 Game when he was in second grade.

His father, Roger, said Orin - who dreams of being an astronomer - did well thanks to help in school and practicing with a friend every day.

"It's just a great competition," said James G. Piern, the president, CEO and chairman of Susquehanna Bank, which sponsors 24 Challenge.

He said the late Mike Callas and some educators liked the game when they saw it elsewhere and brought it to Washington County.

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