Games bolster skills in math Education: A little green spaceman is among the tutors at Richard Henry Lee Elementary School, where a new computer lab mixes fun with learning.

September 18, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

Math can be pretty cool when you have a little green spaceman to guide you through a maze of addition problems, judging from a group of third-graders at Richard Henry Lee Elementary School in Glen Burnie.

"Yeah! this is fun. This is my favorite thing to do," shouted Eric Robinson, as his partner, Matthew Myers, got a problem correct. "Math Blaster. Blast the trash."

Eric and his classmates were gathered around the 13 Intel Pentium-based computers in the school's new lab yesterday, using the computer game, which hurls imaginary trash from a spaceship, to sharpen their math skills.

The school's PTO raised about $30,000 last year, through silent auctions, fairs, dances and sales of T-shirts, gift wrap, candy and soda to buy the computers, said PTO President Janet Pogar.

The Glen Burnie Improvement Association also chipped in some money. And last year, students began saving pennies to help out.

A big white plastic drum nearly full of rolled pennies sits outside the principal's office. The children have saved about $2,000 in pennies, Pogar said.

The PTO, which has applied for a $15,000 matching grant from the county school board, wants to expand the lab to 30 computers, Pogar said. She said she saw a need for the computer lab when she had to learn about computers to do her job.

"Johnny can read and write now, but he can't compute, and computers are almost in every place now," she said.

In the computer lab, children doubled or tripled up in front of the computer screen as their excited voices filled the room while they discussed how to solve each problem.

Their math teacher, Eunice Emge, said she still uses flash cards to teach her students math but that the computers are a great additional teaching tool.

"They're a very visual generation, and we have to keep up with that, where they are. School should be exciting," Emge said.

At their computer, Joan McHugh and her partner, Chelsea Lind, were solving problems at a brisk pace until they forget to insert an equal sign into a problem.

The diminutive spaceman flailed his arms in the air until the girls figured out their mistake.

Afterward, Joan said the game "is fun because it kind of gives you a challenge."

Pub Date: 9/18/96

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