Mathematics club adds up to prizes for pupils

NEIGHBORS

September 25, 2002|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MY GOAL IS to make kids like math," said Bonnie Prentice, who teaches the subject.

Spurred by her son's interest in math, she launched a math club at Sandymount Elementary two years ago. In the spring, two Sandymount pupils scored in the top 2 percent internationally in the Math Olympiad for Elementary and Middle Schools, a New York-based program that includes about 150,000 children from every state and 25 countries who compete monthly.

This year, after her son started sixth grade, Prentice is adding a math club at Shiloh Middle. She will continue the Sandymount club, starting before-school clubs next month, figuring about 50 children will try to wake up early to be part of the discussion of strategy and problem-solving.

"It inspires them to enjoy math," Prentice said. "It's critical thinking, not just straight numbers. It takes them to the next level - what do you know and how do you apply it and manipulate it."

Prentice is director of Sylvan Learning Center in Eldersburg, and receives full support for program materials from owner Barry Willen, so membership in the club is free. Prentice teaches as a volunteer.

She emphasizes that the math club is for every pupil.

"It applies to all levels of math," she said. "The skills themselves are for the above-level kids, but all kids get a lot out of it. I stress that it doesn't matter if you get them all right. I expect them to try to do their best, to make the attempt. And we try a lot of fun stuff."

Last year, when the monthly contests ended in March, the club continued with scientific exploration. Pupils created slime and tried chemical reactions. Two years ago, club members paid for a family field trip to Challenger Center in Alexandria, Va., which included an hour flying a simulated space station and working in mission control.

The five months of club competition starts in November, with tests sent to the parent organization monthly. Participants receive certificates. Each of the top 50 percent in each division receives a patch. Those in the top 10 percent receive a commemorative pin. Those who consistently answer every question correctly receive a medal and a trophy.

"In the beginning, it seems difficult, and the brighter ones want to quit. A lot of times the top kids have never been challenged, and don't know what it's like to be frustrated, and for the first time, they've met a challenge. This program pushes applying math, and manipulating numbers. Some questions are similar to practice SAT," Prentice said.

"Math is my first love. I had a phenomenal teacher" in elementary school, Prentice said. She has taught middle and high school algebra, geometry, and prep for the Maryland Functional Math Test.

"The club is totally volunteer, so I can introduce new, neat things," she said. "It's neat for the lower kids to listen how the above-level kids think. It gives them insight into ways to approach certain problems."

Information: 410-552-1966, after 12:30 p.m. weekdays or www.moems.org.

Patriotic fireplugs

On Saturday, dozens of men and women surrounded many of the fireplugs in Hampstead armed with cans of red, white and blue paint.At least 100 dusty yellow fire hydrants were painted with fresh color.

The painting was completed by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has a church on Lower Beckleysville Road.

"Our bishop asked the town how we could provide service for the community," said James Cook, who was painting with his wife, Denus Cook.

The Cooks have lived in Hampstead since 1946, and were getting to know fellow painters Josh and Dionne Robinson, a young couple who graduated from Brigham Young University and moved to Hampstead two years ago.

"We're painting them all the same, all the way out to Wal-Mart," Josh Robinson said. Other groups were spotted at the high school and Farmers & Merchants Bank.

Certified golf pro

Paul Kraushofer has been certified by the U.S. Golf Teachers Federation as a teaching golf professional. A Hampstead resident, he and Kevin Walker are head professionals at Oakmont Green Golf Course in Hampstead, where Kraushofer teaches golf and holds the summer young people's golf clinic.

"This allows me to teach golf anywhere in the world," Kraushofer said. "There are well over 3,000 golf professionals in this organization that strictly teach and give lessons. This is an accomplishment that I've been tinkering with for the last couple of years."

The federation offers a golf tour, a "minor leagues to the PGA," Kraushofer said.

The certification included a week of testing and two days of playing for a specified score at Penn National, near Chambersburg, Pa.

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