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UCPS holds first Math 24 event

These Union County Public School middle school students competed Friday, April 4, 2008, in the UCPS Math 24 competition held this year at Weddington Middle School. All students pictured either won a bronze, silver or gold medal.

More than 100 students competed in this year’s first UCPS Math 24 competition Friday, April 4, 2008, held this year at Weddington Middle School.
Alden Kessenich, a sixth-grader at Marvin Ridge Middle School, won the competition. She was one of four finalists who emerged after the approximately three-hours of competition.Alden
“I’ve played Math 24 since third grade,” Alden said. “It’s helped me with my multiplication. I know math facts because of the game… It was pretty easy until the last round. We had to do double digits and I didn’t practice it that much. I didn’t know how good the competition was when we sat around the table.”
The competition started with about 100 students from each of the system’s eight middle schools. The competition continued until there were only four remaining: the winner – Alden Kessenich, a Marvin Ridge Middle sixth grader; her sister, Hannah Kessenich, a seventh-grader from Marvin Ridge Middle School; Claudia Ochoa, a seventh-grader from Sun Valley Middle School; and Rheinhardt Beeslaar, a sixth grader from Sun Valley Middle School.
Alden said she was a little intimidated playing against seventh and eight graders, but she felt she had a shot. “I felt as if I was as smart as seventh and eighth graders,” she said. “I was nervous. I wanted to do a good job for my team. The seventh and eighth graders kind of intimidated me.  I just played with them as if they were in sixth grade.”
The contest is based on mental math rather than using a calculator or written problem solving. “It’s patterns,” said event organizer Artez Watts, UCPS Middle School Math Curriculum Coordinator. “They’re looking at four digits (numbers) on a card and they have to use each one of those digits only once. They add, subtract, multiply or divide those four digits to get 24.”UCPS Math 24 finalists
Cards are placed on the tables with four numbers. The first student to come up with the solution to the card touches it. If the answer is correct, the student takes the card and places it in front of him. The proctor then puts the next card into play. Each card gains points.
There were four rounds of play during the competition. Points won by each student in Rounds One and Two were added to determine who advanced to the Semi-final Round Three.
Semi-final Round Three and then the Final Round Four were “face-off” rounds, with the highest scoring student at each table advancing forward. Four gold medals, 16 silver and 21 bronze medals were awarded, with one overall winner taking the 24 Game Challenge Trophy.
The competition took months of planning. Math teachers from each UCPS middle school came together and planned the event beginning last November. It’s slated to become an annual event. Principal Jan Hollis volunteered her school for the first competition, held at Weddington Middle School, but next year’s location has yet to be determined.
“We have students who are competing here who are not necessarily academically gifted students,” said UCPS Director of Middle School Education Wanda Greene. “They’ll be using a lot of mental math. With calculators being used so abundantly, some students are lacking in that.”
This is the first year Union County has held a Math 24 competition, but not the first time UCPS students have competed. Watts said that Monroe Middle School students were the first Union County students to compete in a Math 24 event held about four years ago in Cabarrus County, and actually brought home some medals.
The following year, Sun Valley and Piedmont Middle Schools joined Monroe Middle, again bringing home several medals.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, Publications Coordinator
Posted: Apr 10, 2008 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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