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Topic: Elementary Math Contest - For Information
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Jerry P. Becker

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Registered: 12/3/04
Elementary Math Contest - For Information
Posted: May 21, 1998 3:33 PM
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Math Meet 98 sharpens more than just pencils

By KATHRYN BOWDEN -- St. Petersburg Times -- May 20, 1998

ST. PETERSBURG -- The tick-tock-tick-tock from the wall clock acted
as an abacus while the junior mathematicians worked the problem
before them -- counting, counting, counting.

South Pinellas elementary school students from fourth- and fifth-
grade gifted programs settled into a desk, their pencils and wits
sharpened, to show what they knew about graphs, fractions, geometry,
logic and word problems in a competition against their peers

Math Meet '98 is the reason these 73 kids want to work on math
problems instead of counting the minutes until class is over.

The competition began in 1989 when gifted program teacher Karen
James, then of Oakhurst Elementary School in Seminole, wrote a grant
application called "Mathimize." Her idea was to showcase elementary-
aged children who had talent in solving problems.

"We really wanted to honor those kids who had real talent in math,
like those kids honored in sports," James said. "The meet really
highlighted the kids' talents and they really wanted to be on the
team. Whether they won individually or as a team, the kids were all
so proud of each other."

This year's competition was held April 2-3 at the Area III Gifted
Center, next to Hamilton-Disston Elementary School in St. Petersburg.

"Some of the math problems were really tough," teacher Sally Hansen
said. "Each team had only four minutes to figure out the math problem
given to them. If they finished the problem but it wasn't correct,
they didn't receive any points, meaning they didn't win that round."

Hansen said the children were learning that it wasn't always best to
finish first if they didn't have the right answer.

"What we were trying to do was emphasize problem solving while at
the same time make competitive math projects fun."

There were team and individual winners. (See box.)

"These kids have been preparing for this Math Meet since last fall,"
Hansen said. "They get such a sense of self-satisfaction when they
win or even when they see their team or teammates win. And they all
have a lot of fun competing against other kids by working through
math problems. This is what we wanted to achieve: kids learning and
having fun while doing so."

© Copyright 1998 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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