Math game at HCC challenges students to think on their feet

May 09, 2008|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- The nervous energy in Hagerstown Community College's ARCC was replaced by the hushed voices of Washington County fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade math whizzes as the annual 24 Game Tournament got under way.

Greg Eversole, a math teacher at E. Russell Hicks Middle School, was part of the team that organized the event. He's been involved with the tournament since its inception in 1991.

The 24 Game was created in 1988 by Robert Sun as a way to teach children in first through ninth grades the relationship between numbers through a game.

"Knowing the answer is always 24 alleviates a classic brand of math anxiety getting the right answer and instead puts the emphasis on the process and patterns, what I like to call 'the method behind the math,'" Sun says at


Groups of four students, divided by grade, are presented a 24 Game card by the proctor of their table. Using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, they have to figure out a combination of the four numbers on the card that will equal 24.

Eversole said the first two rounds of the tournament are basically memorization. As the tournament progresses, unsolvable and double-digit cards the students have never seen before are thrown in to challenge them.

"They have to think on their feet, think outside the box," Eversole said of the game that encourages critical thinking and problem solving.

Fifth-graders work with whole numbers, sixth-graders' cards can have fractions and decimals, and seventh-graders are challenged with cards with algebraic equations.

Eversole said the tournament helps enhance students' self-esteem, promotes academic competition and pushes students to a higher level of thinking. Local tournaments help achieve the goal of raising mathematics achievement among students in the community.

The first tournament was at E. Russell Hicks in 1991 with only sixth-graders participating - eight students representing each of the eight public middle schools. The next year, seventh-graders were included, and the following year fifth-graders were invited to participate in the event.

With three representatives from each elementary school, the tournament was moved to HCC to accommodate the number of students. In past years, St. Mary Catholic School students competed, and homeschooled students have also participated. This year, Heritage Academy and Grace Academy students competed.

The champion for each grade receives a trophy and $100 Visa Bucks card, the three finalists for each grade get a $50 Visa Bucks card and the final 16 players for each grade get a movie pass and a Susquehanna Bank patch.

24-Game Challenge Winners 2008

Grade 5

Champion: Megan Eichelberger, Sharpsburg Elementary

Finalists: Leah Cadigan, Greenbrier Elementary; Kaitlin Robertson, Sharpsburg Elementary; Jeffery Bennett, Greenbrier Elementary

Grade 6

Champion: Orin Kuehl, Boonsboro Middle

Finalists: Nicholas Dougherty, Boonsboro Middle; Greg Fiola, Boonsboro Middle; Nora Waltz, Smithsburg Middle

Grade 7

Champion: Matt Hassler, Springfield Middle

Finalists: Chase Remsburg, Boonsboro Middle; Chad Cowden, Boonsboro Middle; Ryan Shoemaker, Springfield Middle

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