`Mathletes' accept tournament challenge

75 schools represented at citywide competition to test mathematics skills

April 24, 1999|By Young Chang | Young Chang,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Matthew Sweet only needed two seconds to add, subtract, divide and multiply four numbers to get to 24.

In yesterday's 24 Challenge Math Tournament in Baltimore, two seconds was enough to earn Sweet a win in the competition.

"Mathletes" from 75 Baltimore schools went head to head at Camden Yards yesterday in the tournament, a citywide competition sponsored by First National Bank of Maryland.

This year's winners were Sweet, 13, of Violetville Elementary School; Tiara White, 11, of Paul L. Dunbar Middle School; and Chris Allulis, 10, of John Ruhrah Elementary School.

Pupils in grades three to eight competed for three $1,000 savings bonds in the three-division tournament. Grades three and four made up Division I; grades five and six, Division II; and grades seven and eight, Division III. All contestants received $50 savings bonds.

"It's fun, it's challenging, and I get to get out of school," said Derrion Stackhouse, last year's Division III champion from Roland Park Elementary/Middle School. He was the first runner-up this year.

In its seventh year, 24 Challenge involves quick thinking andquick reflexes.

Three children and two judges sit at a table. A card with four numbers lies in the middle of the table, and the first contestant to figure out how the numbers can be manipulated to get to 24 taps the card.

If a card had the numbers 5, 3, 5 and 7, a player might say, 5 minus 3 equals 2, 7 plus 5 equals 12, 12 times 2 equals 24. The time limit is 5 seconds.

Tense players slap rather than lightly tap the cards, and hands often hit each other.

The game "teaches them more than just math," said Eileen Fader, vice president of First National Bank. "It teaches them how to be good competitors and we hope that eventually they'll want to become First National employees."

Tiara said, "I feel like crying because I thought I was going to lose the way everyone was talking about how good" another contestant was. "I was kind of scared."

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