By Holmes, Grant
Every February, the Portage County ESC holds the annual Math 24 Game Competition for 4th through 8th graders in Portage County. The competition is held at the Maplewood Career Center in Ravenna. Each participating school district in Portage County sends their top players to the competition.
The program is coordinated by Rachel Smethers-Winters, M. Ed., Ed. S., Gifted Coordinator, and Michelle Cassese, Curriculum/Gifted Consultant, both from the Portage County Educational Service Center.
Students sit four to a group. At timed intervals, a proctor assigned to the table places a card on the table with four digits on it. For example, let’s say a card shows the puzzle of: 2, 12, 1, 1. Then using four basic math operations (add, subtract, divide and multiply), and using parenthesis and the rules of math operations, make those four digits equal 24. So in the simple example given, ((2 x 12) + 1) -1= 24. Simple right?!
First student in the group to solve the puzzle, gets the point value on the card they’ve solved. Tougher puzzles get more points. The winner of each round then competes against other winners until the ultimate winner is triumphant!
The coordinators have also included some right-side brain activity in this heavy, left-brain contest. Each year students are encouraged to design a t-shirt for the contest. All of the participants at the contest get a t-shirt with the winning design!
Math 24 began in 1988 when Robert Sun embarked on a journey to teach children the relationship between numbers through a game. The results of his efforts was the Math 24 Game, a unique mathematics tool that has proven to successfully engage students in grades 1 through 9 from diverse economic and social backgrounds. To play the Math 24 game, students must create a number equation from the four numbers on the Math 24 card to equal the number 24. Sun stated, “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 may be called the method behind the math.
And here's some practice for you!
- 1, 3, 6, 1? Answer: ((1+3) x 6) x1
- 10, 12, 8, 6 _______?_______
- 7, 9, 3, 2 _______?_______
- 11, 7, 5, 10 _______?_______
- 1, 8, 9, 11 _______?_______