24® Game News
Elkins Park Students Soar At 24 Challenge® Event
NORRISTOWN, PA—A team of eight talented Elkins Park Middle School students competed on May 12 in Norristown at a countywide 24 Challenge® tournament.
As reported in the Cheltenham School District Weekly News Share, nearly 100 students from across Montgomery County competed in three divisions. Five Elkins Park students earned silver medals by advancing to the challenging Semifinal round.
These mathletes—three medalists and an alternate in each grade division—made it to the countywide event by competing at the very first Cheltenham School District 24® Game Tournament held on April 4.
Representing Grade 4/5 were: Clare Rajapakse (Gold), Jesse Packel (Silver), Jaylan Brown (Bronze), Makiya Vilsaint (Honorable Mention) Representing Grade 6 were: Hope Enriquez (Gold), Sydra Minkoff (Silver), Carly Bruno (Bronze), Joey Weimer (Honorable Mention).
The district competition was organized and managed by Gerald Aungst, Supervisor of Gifted and Elementary Mathematics for the district. Math Leaders from each school had a team of students participate in the event—hosted by Geraldine Fitzpatrick, Principal of Elkins Park ES. Students from Cheltenham High School served as Proctors.
Popular 24® Game on the Menu at Chinese Restaurant
EASTON, PA—When long-time First In Math Account Manager Cynthia Anderson stopped by a local restaurant the last thing she expected to find was the 24® game.
Maggie Dong and her children, Adam and Winnie, often play the 24® game to pass the time.
“I was meeting my whole family at the Hibachi Grill for dinner,” explains Anderson. “As we were walking to our table, my grandson Adam and son Mark brought to my attention that there were people playing the 24® game behind the hostess station. I walked back to take a look and found hostess Maggie Dong and her two children playing 24!”
“When I told her that I worked for Suntex, the company that created the game, Dong replied that her daughter was a school champion and was practicing for the state 24 Challenge® tournament.” The family lives in Nazareth, PA, and daughter Winnie goes to school at Nazareth Intermediate while son Adam attends Lower Nazareth Elementary.
“I commented that she was pretty fast at solving the cards—as fast as her children—and she shared that she also played the 24® game as a young girl in Philadelphia while attending Holy Redeemer School,” says Anderson. “The 24 game was part of the school culture then, as it is now in many classrooms throughout Archdiocese of Philadelphia schools.”
List of 2015 ‘Super STEM Gifts’ Includes 24® Game
November 23rd, just days before the Black Friday shopping frenzy, Project Lead The Way (PLTW) released its annual list of Super STEM Gifts, highlighting 11 toys, games and activities that will inspire and engage students while building knowledge and skills. That list includes Suntex International’s own 24® GAME.
The best toys, games and activities that are both fun and educational—and will inspire young people’s interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)—are featured. According to the PLTW website, Super STEM Gifts are selected with input from PLTW team members and teachers around the country, and chosen for their ability to strengthen problem-solving and critical-thinking skills that are vital to today’s in-demand fields.
All nine editions of the 24® game can be purchased directly from Suntex International at www.24game.com. Select editions are also available through Amazon.com.
Editor’s note: Project Lead The Way is a nonprofit organization that empowers students to develop in-demand, transportable knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. PLTW’s training and resources support teachers as they engage their students in real-world learning.
M.I.T. Engineering Grad Mentors Middle School Math StudentsA contribution written by Chevron Engineer Tongji Li.
PINOLE, CA—My name is Tongji Li, but I go by Youyou (pronounced yo-yo). I recently graduated from M.I.T with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a concentration in Engineering Leadership. Hired straight out of school by Chevron, I am currently an employee in their northern California facility as an Oronite Development Engineer.*
L to R, back row: Asst. Coach Nate Quan, Chevron employees, a representative from Burger King (in purple shirt) and Pinole Mayor Peter Murray. Middle row: Mara Crooks, Speaker Stephanie New, Coach Youyou, Eddie Corriea, Jordan Goularte, Kayla Collins, Yongjia Huang, Nanthaya Mira Verweij). Front row: Vice Principal Esaul Orozco, Ruben Aguilar, Angelina Vuong, Irene Cisneros, Zoe Salswedel, Paula Marquez, Jeremy Edgerson, Lewis Corriea and Teacher Amy Robinson. (Photo credit: Charles Anderson)
I grew up in a single-parent household. We didn't have a lot of money, so my mom had to come up with creative games to amuse an energetic young girl like me.
When I entered middle school, I was so excited to find Bob Sun’s 24® game editions in my classroom—and to find out that there was a 24 Challenge® Tournament. I joined immediately! I loved it! Those math competitions were the happiest and most wonderful moments of my middle school years. They gave me perspective, inspired me to work hard, and instilled a life-long love of math—and learning.
Hoping to spread my love of math—and give underprivileged students an opportunity to expand their horizons—I worked with the West Contra Costa Unified School District and Pinole Principal Denise VanHook to implement a Math Club at Pinole Middle School in West Contra Costa County in late November of 2014.
Initially, I heard from several alumni that math was not a prominent extracurricular activity, and most students were supposedly not interested. I reasoned if that were true, it could simply be from lack of exposure. These students—and all students—have incredible potential, they might just not know it.
Since then, I have taken them to a MathCounts competition, and prepared them for the Mathematical Association of America’s AMC 8. The students showed incredible improvement since joining the Math Club, and armed with those positive results I presented a plan to convince the district and the school to allow me to organize a 24 Challenge® Tournament.
I contacted Suntex International, makers of the 24® game, and they were incredibly helpful, especially Suntex VP Barbara Asteak, who offered lots of guidance and put me in touch with California rep Jill Henderson. The kids were so excited to hear about the backing and support from the 24® game they drew a giant thank-you note on the classroom bulletin board.
With so much support, our May 28, 2015 event was a great success. If I had only one word to describe it, that word would be INSPIRATIONAL. If I am allowed to have more words, they would be AWESOME, AMAZING and FANTASTIC.
A giant Thank You note to Suntex was created on the classroom bulletin board, and signed by the members of the Pinole Middle School Math Club. (Photo credit: Charles Anderson)
During the competition, I had never seen the kids more focused, and there was an electric buzz of excitement in the air. All of the kids stayed after school and waited outside the room until the setup was done, when they all rushed in! The room filled with sounds of laughter, competitive jostling and mumbling of nervous wondering. However, when the competition began the silence was as though we vacuumed all the air out of the room. The only sound you could hear were card taps and solutions—or the occasional shutter click of a camera.
Sponsors from local Burger King and Krispy Kreme restaurants attended, and Pinole Mayor Peter Murray came and stayed the full two hours! We had six volunteers from Chevron, along with Math Club assistant coach, Nate Quan, and my visiting friend from MIT helping. I would like to thank them, and everyone that helped me give these students a great mathematics experience.
Why I am trying so hard to give these experiences to the kids—even though I don't work for the district and I'm not a teacher? Because it is my passion. I want to pass my love of math and learning on to all children. They are our future, and I want to help give them the best opportunity to succeed.
* What is an Oronite Development Engineer? According to Youyou, it is rotation of engineering positions that allows her to experience a new field in each of the first three years of employment. “The purpose is to allow us to see as much of the company as possible, to see what will best fit our strengths and passions.”
New 24 Game App Selected as a Tillywig
EASTON, PA—Suntex International is proud to announce that the 24® Game is the winner of a Tillywig Toy & Media Award. “Only two other products were winners in the Mobile App category, and the 24 Game secured the top spot on the list,” according to Lindsey Honig of SSPR Public Relations Agency.
Toy & Media Award Winner
Tillywig provides retail buyers, news media, parents, and consumers with product information and reviews of superior children's products available in today's marketplace. According to their website:
“The 24 Game is remarkable for the way in which it stimulates and builds logical thinking and problem solving skills.”
“The genius of the game resides in both the simplicity of the steps and the way it requires a player to think ahead.”
The Tillywig testing team must determine that the product has a high entertainment and/or educational value for it to be selected as an award winner. During the evaluation process, products are used by a number of testers—from all walks of life and a broad range of ages—in an observed focus group format. The team focuses on evaluating many factors, including:
Ease of First Use. Clear, easy-to-understand instructions and product design are key factors in creating a positive initial experience.
Replay Value. It was fun the first time out, but will it be equally or even more enjoyable over a period of weeks, months...years?
Quality/Appearance. Does it look and feel well-made? Is it something retailers would be proud to have on their shelves, a parent would be proud to give as a gift?
Social Interaction/Fun Factor. Products that effectively promote a high level of face-to-face playful interaction receive a high rating.
Creativity. Does it inspire creativity during use/play? Does this product actively fuel the imagination?
Thought Processes/Motor Skills. Does it encourage new ways of thinking or promote physical development?
When evaluating an educational product such as the 24® Game, the testing team will also consider and more heavily weigh factors relating to learning and development.
Learn more about the one and only, original 24® Game app in the iTunes or Google Play stores.
Teacher Builds Award-Winning ‘Sandcastle’ Salute to the 24 GameREHOBOTH, DE—As a teacher, Sheila Stephanis has heard her share of ‘what I did on my summer vacation’ stories. This summer, with the help of the 24® GAME, she created one of her own.
Left: Shelia Stephanis works on the 24 game logo portion of her design. Right: The finished sculpture.
Stephanis, from Marietta, PA, was among more than 100 teams expressing their artistic flair in the sand at the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce 37th Annual Sandcastle Contest on August 1.
“I've been teaching kids how to play the 24 game for 24 years now,” smiles Stephanis, who taught math at Elizabethtown Area Middle School for 19 years, and most recently taught 4-6th grade math at Bear Creek Intermediate School. Now retired, she enjoys sand sculpting, and participates in the contest each year. This year she decided build her sculpture around the 24 game.
Prizes are awarded to the Top 10 sculptures in several categories. Stephanis was one of the winners in the Top 10 Judge’s Favorites (Adult, 15 & up) category. Her sculpture was titled simply, ‘24 Game’.
“I had a lot of nice comments on the sand sculpture and won a trophy, but the interactions with the people were the best part. After my big win, I sent some photos to Suntex, makers of the 24 game. I thought they might get a kick out of it,” chuckles Stephanis.
“Everyone in our office was just blown away by this incredible sand sculpture,” says Suntex VP Barbara Asteak. “It is heartwarming to learn how many different ways we touch lives with our games, and how many different mediums are used to express the love and appreciation children and adults have for the family of 24 games.”
“Even though I’m no longer teaching, I still think the 24 game is the greatest,’ says Stephanis. “My kids loved the game and it was a great mental math exercise. They were sharpening their skills but it just felt like fun to them.”
Stephanis especially loves what used to be referred to as the ‘Platinum’ editions—Fractions/Decimals, Algebra/Exponents and Integers—and wishes more kids would become interested in them. “My advanced students were crazy about Platinum cards, and pressed me to teach them concepts that were not yet in their curriculum. They became whizzes at the decimal, fraction, exponent and algebra cards, and finally I had to teach them the integer rules so they could solve integer cards too—even the fourth-graders. They solved cards faster than I did, and I’m pretty good.”
The veteran teacher also used the First in Math program, which she says her students enjoyed, but her greatest memories are still tied to the 24 game. “Back in the day when we had a Pennsylvania State Championship competition, Mr. Sun signed a shirt of mine. I'll frame it when it falls apart. Thanks for inspiring my kids!” See all 9 Classroom-sized editions of the 24 game, including “Platinum” cards, at 24game.com
Suntex Launches New, Upgraded 24® Game AppEASTON, PA—Suntex International Inc. is pleased to announce that an upgraded 24® GAME APP is now available for download in both the Apple and Google stores!
Version 2.0 has been completely redesigned and optimized for phone and tablet use, and features multi-player action that allows competition against Facebook friends or other players worldwide in head-to-head challenges.
“It works just like the card game that everybody loves—solve your card faster to win that card and earn points—win more points, win the challenge,” says Suntex Vice President Barbara Asteak. “Players can climb the leaderboard, view their global rankings, and see how their stats stack up against other players worldwide.”
The app includes more than 130 new, never-before-seen Single Digits card combinations—and a few hidden gems—for a total of 324 card combinations. Players receive Bonus Points when they unlock Achievement Awards.
Not up for a competition? Choose Single Player mode to hone your skills by practicing each difficulty level for as long as you want. Beat your best time and track average response time.
“We are very excited about this major reentry into the consumer app market,” says Suntex CEO Robert Sun, who is also looking toward the future. “Stay tuned—we have a deep pool of engaging math games currently featured on the First In Math website that we will be developing for the app market.”
The app is available at a cost of $1.99 for new downloads in the Apple iTunes store (upgrades from 1.0 to 2.0 are free). In the Google Play store, it is priced at $0.99. Download the app NOW – don’t forget to tell your friends and give us a review in the Apple or Google stores.
(iTunes store) (Google Play store)
Schuylkill County Schools Take the 24 Challenge®
MAR LIN, PA—Students from several Schuylkill County school districts took part in an exciting 24 Challenge Tournament on May 7 at Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29.
“This inaugural event had a great turnout and the kids really impressed me with their skills,” says Suntex Vice President Barbara Asteak, who added that the planning and execution of IU 29’s 24 Challenge Tournament was a great success.
“Some of these kids solve 24® game cards faster than me,” laughed tournament organizer Vince Hoover, Supervisor of Mathematics and District Support Consultant for Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29.
Students compete in their own grade group—4/5, 6 or 7/8—in two rounds of play to claim the most 24 game cards and qualify for the semi-finals. Sixteen students reached the 4/5-grade semifinals, eight reached the 6-grade semifinals and 17 reached the 7/8-grade semifinals.*
To move on to the final round, students must solve cards of increasing difficulty. “Variables cards are really hard,” said Tamaqua Elementary fifth-grader Cole Eberts during an interview by Gabriella O'Grady of the Republican Herald. Eberts said he wanted to compete because the game looked like fun.
“An event like this impacts more than just the kids who participate. There are many students who competed in school competitions in hopes of coming to this event,” said Hoover. “I’d like to thank the 24 game folks at Suntex so much for help with the competition, and especially Barbara Asteak. The students really enjoyed it. I hope to do it again.”
Champions were Zach Engleman, seventh-grader at Tamaqua Area Middle School; Jessica Keefer, sixth-grader at Hegins-Hubley Elementary; and co-champions Aleczia Britt, fifth-grader at Saint Clair Area Elementary, and Sydney Schley, fifth-grader at Hegins-Hubley Elementary.
Schools that participated included Gillingham Charter School, Mahanoy Area, Minersville Area, Pottsville Area, Schuylkill Haven Area, St. Ambrose, Tamaqua Area, Tri-Valley and Williams Valley.
* DID YOU KNOW? Some 24 Challenge Tournaments also feature a Platinum Division of competition in addition to the standard grade groups. Platinum challenges include Fractions, Decimals, Exponents and Algebra 24 game cards!
Visit the First In Math / Suntex Team
BOSTON, MA—Each year, our nation’s foremost math educators attend the National Council of Supervisors/Teachers of Mathematics (NCSM/NCTM) conference. This year’s event runs from April 15-18.
In Boston at NCTM 2015
Talk with Robert Sun and the entire Suntex team at BOOTH #1128 to learn how First In Math allows children at every skill level to develop into successful math students. We can’t wait to tell you about risk-free opportunities to implement First In Math in your school!
Then at 9:45 on Saturday, join our Gallery Workshop for grades 3 to 5: “Let’s Talk Mathematics: The 24® Game Promotes Classroom Fluency.”
Cred Dobson, a life-long School District of Philadelphia math educator and recipient of the 2014 Benjamin Banneker Association Lifetime Achievement Award, and Shawn Collier, former math specialist and current FIM Implementation Specialist, are co-presenters. Attendees will participate in a number of hands-on activities that will include materials from the 24® game series.
Don’t forget our annual NCTM RAFFLE! Fill out an entry blank to win a large basket filled with 24® games and other goodies—you do not need to be present to win.
SCHNECKSVILLE, PA—A nation-wide phenomenon in the 1990’s, Suntex 24 Challenge® Tournaments are being revived in a big way throughout Pennsylvania in 2015.
Pennsylvania Regional IU’s To Sponsor 24 Challenge Events in 2015
Several of the Keystone state’s regional Intermediate Units will be hosting tournaments for students in grades four through eight, according to Suntex VP Barbara Asteak. “Pennsylvania IU’s are very important, providing technology-rich instructional and operational services to public school districts, charter and private schools throughout the state,” explains Asteak. “IU’s function as a link between the Pennsylvania Department of Education and local school districts.”
CLIU 21 24 Challenge Winners Top photo, l to r: Grade 7/8 Grand Champion: Danielle Shapiro – Penn Kidder & LB Morris, Jim Thorpe. Grade 6 Grand Champion: Sabrina Safadi – Catasauqua MS, Catasauqua. Grade 4/5 Grand Champion: Michael Whittland - Willow Lane, East Penn. Bottom photo: Joe Page (far left) and Whitehall-Coplay High School’s Mu Alpha Theta members.
Asteak and several other representatives from Suntex attended the first of the IU-sponsored tournaments on February 11, 2015 at the Carbon-Lehigh IU 21 in Schnecksville, located in the eastern part of the state.
More than 80 students, accompanied by teachers and parents, came to the CLIU 21’s Central Office building to test their 24® Game skills, playing against students from several school districts around the two-county region.
Joe Page, Educational Technologies Specialist for the department of Curriculum & Instruction at IU 21, organized the event. “The math skills and abilities of these students are truly inspiring and somewhat astonishing. Every student here, including the fourth graders, could blow me out of the water—and I am a former high school math teacher."
The competition’s proctors were Whitehall-Coplay High School’s Mu Alpha Theta members, the school’s top mathematics students. MAT’s advisor, Jason Ruch, was also impressed with the level of math mastery, “This competition is certainly helping to prepare young students to not only be ready for the rigors that await when they get to high school and beyond, but to also experience how much fun math can be.”
“Everyone had fun, and the whole event was exciting—the last championship round especially so,” says Suntex Project Manager Sande Phillips. “The intensity and focus of these kids when they are competing is inspiring.”
CLIU21 website How to organize a 24 Challenge event at your school
24 CHALLENGE® CHAMPIONS, Then & Now: Matt DiRusso
STATEN ISLAND, NY—Matt DiRusso has been playing the 24® game since grade school, and won multiple New York City contests in 2001 and 2002. “You might be thinking that 12 years is a long time for me to be bragging about adolescent victories, but it helps me to explain why I am positive that this game shaped my math skills for life,” says DiRusso.
Matthew DiRusso receiving his diploma from the College of Staten Island, and as an 11-year old (inset).
DiRusso was the class sixth-grade champion, the Public School 232 champion, and District 27 champion in NYC, going undefeated in his tournament bouts. “In the beginning I played about four hours a day, then less and less as I mastered the game, because I could solve the cards so quickly.”
“My most memorable victory was a card I had never seen before. The last card to lie on the table was a 3-point card and to this day I remember the solution, 72÷3=24. I remember how shocked my teacher’s face was when I shouted the solution just as she was going to flip the card and call it a stalemate.”
Back then, DiRusso admits some students accused him of memorizing the cards. “I didn't memorize the cards at all; what ended up happening was truly amazing. I began to see the product of the digits without even thinking, and would be able to blurt out an answer faster than my competitor almost every time.”
DiRusso still struggles to explain the exact mechanics. “If you take a card with the numbers 6 - 3 - 4 - 8 as an example, I automatically ‘see’ in my head the solution 8 x 3 = 24*. This approach is key to success at the 24 game, and I believe I adopted this operating system at a young age and was able to carry it forward and build on it.”
“I kept playing as the years went by, and as a result developed even more mental-math skills,” says DiRusso. “I am pretty good at calculating balances between accounts without a calculator, and making estimates. My number-grouping skills help me easily recall phone numbers, account numbers, router passwords, and so on.”
DiRusso says he has no doubt that he owes his outstanding math skills to the 24 game. “My father was good at math and set a wonderful example for me, but I am positive it was the 24 game that unleashed my potential. I am thankful I was introduced to this game because I believed it shaped my brain.”
Today, DiRusso is a not-for-profit auditor at Grant Thornton LLP. “I use my math skills every day at work, and people take notice. I am currently working toward my CPA and am considering law school, even though numbers may be where I belong.”
There is, however, one problem his 24-game prowess has manifested. “I'm very passionate about the 24 game and I love to play, but I have no one left to share it with—friends don’t want to play with me any more because I always win!”
*(Here is the full solution: 8 ÷ 4 = 2, 2 + 6 = 8, 8 x 3 = 24. There are several others for this card, can you find them all?).
Mayor’s Fund for London
Creates 24 Game ‘Count On Us Challenge’
LONDON, ENGLAND—The Mayor’s Fund for London will join forces with the UK’s best-loved mathematician, Johnny Ball, to inspire London’s primary-school children to take part in a new math challenge. A total of 52 schools will take part in the COUNT ON US CHALLENGE, which is based on the 24® Game and the 24 Challenge®, created by U.S.-based Suntex International.
British television personality Johnny Ball visits with children who are preparing to take on their best and brightest peers in a London-wide Math Challenge.
The initiative is part of their wider Count On Us numeracy program aimed at motivating more than 3,000 children in 150 primary schools across the capital over the next three years. The top 13 schools will attend the Count On Us Challenge Final on June 10th, 2014 at City Hall.
In his role as ambassador for the Mayor’s Fund for London, Ball visited Sacred Heart Primary School in Wandsworth, to help inspire students to enjoy math, and give them hints and tips on how to play the 24® Game. “An understanding that maths is both fun and empowering is one of the most important things we can teach young people today,” explains Ball. “I am delighted to be working with the Mayor’s Fund for London to support Count on Us, which has identified key challenges for young people in getting to grips with numeracy."
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London agrees. “A good grasp of maths is a vital skill for success in the job market. The Mayor’s Fund for London’s work with young Londoners will help improve their chances of getting a decent job, escaping the threat of poverty and playing a full part in London’s future as the greatest city on Earth."
Jared Brading, Head Teacher at Sacred Heart Primary School says that the Count on Us Challenge has encouraged his students to see math in a different way, approach learning math with a more positive attitude. “We use the 24® Game across the classes and the Count on Us Maths Club to get children thinking.”
Count On Us was created as a result of a six-month investigation and study into the need for intervention to increase math skills among London students. Commissioned in partnership with City Bridge and conducted by National Numeracy, the study helped to identify where the Mayor’s Fund for London could best make a difference to halt the decline in math skills at an early age. Research shows that each year, nearly one out of every five 11-year-olds in London left primary school with the math skills of a seven-year-old.
The report’s three key recommendations were:
a) Make math more fun and engaging, and enable children to apply their skills
outside of the classroom
b) Raise the profile of math in schools and tackle the general negative attitude toward
c) Encourage parents and caregivers to participate/engage with their children’s math education
The Mayor’s Fund for London’s exists to give young Londoners the skills and opportunities to get a decent job, escape the threat of poverty and play a full part in London’s future as the greatest city on Earth. Work focuses on helping young Londoners to be engaged, healthy and motivated to learn; offering extra support for core skills which employers say are absolutely essential (particularly numeracy and literacy) and supporting employers to create decent and sustainable career prospects for young Londoners.
DID YOU KNOW - MATH vs MATHS: People in the UK, India, South Africa and several other countries say “maths” instead of “math,” as we do here in America. Other slight differences you may notice in this article are the way our words “student” and “elementary” equate to their UK cousins “pupil” and “primary.”
First In Math Inventor Offers Thoughts on Achieving Focus,
Rigor in Math Class
EASTON, PA—Robert Sun, First In Math inventor, is often invited to speak and write about issues and philosophies related to mathematics education. An article written by Sun was recently published in the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) newsletter. It begins by featuring a Philadelphia school’s First In Math success story.
Baldi Middle School ended the First In Math 2012-2013 season ranked #5, as students solved more than 17 million math problems correctly in just ten months. Even though Baldi is located in an economically challenged neighborhood, they sustain a high-performing culture characterized by three traits: the children feel attached to their school and its mission; the environment supports productivity and performance; and students are energized to sustain accelerated effort over time.
The how and why of these accomplishments, according to Sun, begins with a concept known as Deep Practice—a practice loop where proficiency is attained through immediate awareness of success or failure.
This type of learning is evident in sports, music and other pursuits that engage our senses. When solving math problems, however, there usually is no similar form of encouragement. First In Math addresses this challenge by creating a Deep Practice loop to provide immediate, non-judgmental feedback. Students are motivated to tackle a complex subject in manageable parts. They can stop when an error occurs, practice one skill until it is perfected and eventually, achieve mastery. This is the hallmark of Deep Practice.
The benefits of this type of mastery extend to other vital skills—problem solving and critical thinking among them. Successful critical thinking is difficult, because the human brain was not designed to think but evolved to process vast quantities of visual information. Computers can now beat the best human players in chess, but we have yet to design one that can steer robots over uneven terrain or drive a truck—that’s how complex it is to process visual information. Yet for the human brain, it’s a task that is preferable to thinking.
Sun goes on to explain that the portion of our brain allocated to thinking, the neo-cortex, commonly referred to as the “working memory,” is limited. That’s why when we overtax our working memory our ability to reason slows or may break down altogether.
What we experience through our senses enters into our working memory, but we also draw from a storehouse of accumulated knowledge—our long-term memory. If our goal is to enable students to think critically, and thereby approach math with rigor and focus, they must be offered repeated practice to build automaticity and insure that that their long-term memory contains comprehensive factual knowledge related to mathematics.
Sun encourages educators to think of long-term memory as a pantry. When a child’s pantry is sparse, he cannot perform up to expected standards. Stocking the pantry with knowledge is essential if we want children to think critically.
Although children are exposed to vast quantities of information from birth, it is only when they are actively engaged and thinking that this information becomes stored in their long-term memory. Passive styles of teaching can be likened to laying important ingredients on a table and hoping that students will be motivated to collect them and add them to their pantry. However, when a student is not actively engaged, those items never get into the pantry, they pile up and eventually fall off the table’s edge.
Studies confirm that 90 percent of what a child is taught in class is forgotten within 30 days. First In Math avoids this treadmill by providing students with an opportunity to take ownership through active engagement.
Sun concludes by sharing, “Stocking the pantry may not be the most glamorous aspect of math education; but when our kids pantries are full, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish—or to the future they will be inspired to invent.”
Suntex International Releases First-Ever 24® Game App on iTunes!
EASTON, PA—“We are pleased to announce that anyone looking for a mesmerizing math challenge can now download a Single-Digits version of the popular 24® Game from Apple’s iTunes App Store” says Suntex Vice President Barbara Asteak. Previously, the only electronic versions of any 24 Game appeared in the Skill Set™ modules on the First In Math® Online Program web site.
The 24® Game Single Digits app was launched in December, 2010, and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices with iOS 3.2 or later. The original Single Digits card game debuted in 1988, and eventually inspired nine other editions, as well as the 24 Challenge® Program and the creation of the First In Math® Online Program.
The “i” version of the Single Digits game plays like its card-game predecessor and FIM cousin, but players are ‘on the clock.’ Students can play to beat their own best time, or challenge friends to see who is the quickest—Current Time and Best Time are displayed. Play is simple—make the number 24 using all four numbers on the electronic card. Add, subtract, multiply or divide but use each number only once. As players solve cards, blue bars within a small “strength meter” record the number of successful completions; after eight correct plays the game ends and records the elapsed time.
Games offer three levels of difficulty, indicated by dots. The App store lists the game for ages 4 and up, but is probably more appropriate for ages 9 and up. The app costs 99¢ per download and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices with iOS 3.2 or later.
Successful engineer and inventor Robert Sun created the 24® game in 1988. “I wanted to demonstrate that mathematics can be powerful, engaging and fascinating,” says Sun. “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, the method behind the math.”
In 2012, the 24® Game will celebrate its 24th anniversary, continuing to help children sharpen basic math skills such as computation, problem solving, number sense, critical thinking, and pattern sensing. Used in more than 600,000 classrooms throughout the United States and abroad, the 24® Game, and the First In Math® Online Program, are helping to create a new generation of students become critical thinkers and problem solvers.
24 CHALLENGE® CHAMPIONS, THEN & NOW: Daniel Manbeck
BETHLEHEM, PA—Some of Daniel Manbeck's memories of the 2000 Pennsylvaina State 24 Challenge® finals are sketchy, but he remembers one thing very clearly—how excited he was to meet 24® game inventor Robert Sun, and to pose for a picture with him after the event. Ten years ago, Manbeck was a 5th-grader at Mifflinburg Area Middle School enjoying that moment. Little did he know that in 2010 he would end up working for Sun!
"I wanted to do an Internship during the summer," explains Manbeck, now a Junior and Computer Science & Business major at Lehigh University. "I saw a posting on the Lehigh Career Services website for a programming internship, and could not believe my eyes when I saw where it was—at Suntex, Robert Sun's company!" A few phone calls and a few weeks later–with the old, faded picture of himself and Sun tucked into his briefcase–Manbeck walked through the door at Suntex for an interview.
"From the beginning of the interview, we felt Dan would be a great fit for us here at Suntex, but when he told us about his 24 Challenge® experiences, we knew we had to find a spot for him," laughs Suntex Executive Vice President Nan Ronis.
THEN: Manbeck with Sun after placing third at the 2000 24 Challenge Pennsylvania State Finals.
NOW: Cramming three computers into his small workspace at Suntex headquarters in Easton, PA, Manbeck tackled a variety of projects during his internship.
"At Lehigh, my interest in logic and mathematics merged to lead me toward a programming-intensive course of study," says Manbeck. "I have to believe that part of that interest was sparked early on in my childhood by the 24® Game." Mifflinburg K-8 Gifted Support Teacher MaryBeth Griffith agrees that her former student, who still comes to visit her from time to time, has a ‘math-wired’ mind, but says he was strong in all subjects, not just math. “Dan is just an amazing young man,” says Griffith. “From an early age, he was always a great problem-solver—I think that’s why the 24® Game was so much fun for him.”
According to Manbeck, the internship has been a great opportunity to work in a professional environment and improve his skills in the rapidly-expanding field of web development. He spent nearly three months helping program and test content for Sun’s First In Math® Online Program, which is based on the 24® Game. Adapting the site’s existing Equal Length and Equal Weight games to include additional Metric and Mixed units of measurement involved generating the huge databases of information that ‘do the math’ for these games. “Working for someone who is an inventor like Bob is pretty amazing, because he really thinks on his feet and you have to keep up and problem-solve on the fly—it can get pretty intense. But I learned that if reaching a better solution means scrapping what you've already done and working harder, then that's what you need to do. It certainly is an experience that I will carry with me through college and into my career."
Fellow Lehigh alum and Suntex Senior Systems Architect Jason Walters enjoyed working closely with Manbeck. "Dan's very enthusiastic about whatever he's doing, he’s a quick learner and a great guy. I am sure that he will continue to work for us now and again on special projects in the future."
After mathematics, Manbeck's second love is music, and he is currently the Assistant Manager of the Lehigh Univeristy Choir, a member of the Percussion Ensemble and performs with the Wind Ensemble. When he graduates from Lehigh, Manbeck says he is not 100% sure what path he will choose. But wherever he goes, he says he'll probably have that old picture of Bob and a funny-looking 5th-grader on his desk.
Teachers Share Success Stories at NCTM Conference
SAN DIEGO, CA—Representatives from Suntex International, makers of the 24® Game and the First In Math® Online Program, traveled to sunny San Diego for the 2010 NCTM Annual Meeting on April 21, 2010. The exposition featured vendors, presentations, workshops, and mini-courses covering all grade levels. This year's theme was “Connections: Linking Concepts and Content.”
The colorful Suntex booth incorporated six computers, allowing educators to fully experience the First In Math program as a student or teacher. Suntex President and CEO Robert Sun says he always looks forward to attending to “share our vision of the success students can achieve with those who may never have heard of us,” and also to hear what loyal users of the 24® Game and the First In Math program have to say.
Many teachers who visited the Suntex booth for a demonstration stayed to pose for pictures with First In Math creator Robert Sun.
“When educators say to me ‘First In Math Online is the fastest, surest, most enjoyable way for our students to get good at math’ or ‘There is not anything else in the marketplace that holds a candle to this wonderful program,’ I know we’re on the right track, explains Sun, who is proud that such sentiments are echoed by education professionals across the country. (see Letters)
There were also stories that moved Sun—among them an Orange County, Florida teacher explaining that her ‘hotel’ kids (from families who have recently lost their homes due to tough economic times) are staying in school an extra two hours at day’s end to work on the First In Math program.
Helping to spread the word were Vice President Barbara Asteak, customer specialists Nancy Kane, Cynthia Anderson and FIM Texas rep Tony Morrow, who loves doing site-demos. Kane also handed out three 24® Game/ First In Math® daily prizes, won by teachers from Nova Scotia (Canada), Arizona and California.
24 Challenge® Greetings from Ngomeni, Kenya!
KENYA, AFRICA—Chris McKeown is a United States Peace Corps Volunteer currently living in the village of Ngomeni, Kenya. McKeown grew up in the small town of Hellertown, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Saucon Valley High School in 2004. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 2008 before joining the Peace Corps. "My family recently came to visit me in Kenya, and brought a 24® Game," says McKeown, who began using the game with his students every day after school. They enjoyed it so much, McKeown decided to set up a 24 Challenge® tournament.
Top left: Chris McKeown sorts decks in preparation for the 24 Challenge® event. Top right: Players listen intently to see if the solution offered is correct. Bottom: The crowd stays close to the action as students try to solve a tough Variables card.
"At first, I just wanted to let everybody back home know that the 24® Game is popular even in a small rural village in Kenya," says McKeown, who contacted 24® Game inventor Robert Sun with the news. Sun replied, donating a 24® Game Tournament Kit and offering encouragement.
McKeown soon realized that the Tournament was becoming something important, something that his students really took pride in. "Our school is young, and we don’t have many resources—these kids don't often get to be a part of an event like this. For six weeks prior to the Tournament, they practiced almost every day after school for at least an hour. On a typical day a minimum of ten students out of our total of 28 attended practice," says McKeown, adding that the practice sessions become very competitive, and made for a great build-up to the Challenge.
Word spread quickly, and on October 31, the tiny school was ready. "We ultimately had 15 students decide to compete," says McKeown, who enlisted the help of another Peace Corps volunteer, Maryland native Tameisha Henry, a graduate of The American University, to help organize the event and act as head judge. "The event was intense, but in a really fun way. We were able to get great prizes and had a nice-sized crowd watching, so my students were focused on performing their best. Each time we announced which students would be advancing there was a buzz in the room."
Excitement continued at the championship table, where play went into 'sudden death', according to McKeown. "Two students actually tied and had to solve a tie-breaking card. Everyone crowded around the table and it made for a dramatic ending—awesome stuff!" McKeown calls Grand Champion Ahmed Abdillah of Ngomeni “an exemplary student.”
"I heard people talking about it for days afterward, and many students told me that it was a day that they will never forget," says McKeown, who describes the event as a 'tremendous success'. I just want thank Suntex, and to let you know that the 24® game made a huge impact at our school. I am personally forever grateful."
24 CHALLENGE® CHAMPIONS, THEN & NOW: Joshua Mindler
WAYNE, NJ—Joshua Mindler says he always had a talent for math, but participating in the 24 Challenge® really brought out his passion for mathematics. "Preparing for the competitions drove me to study and work harder, to rise to the level of competition I was facing," says Mindler. As a Northampton Junior High School 7th grader, Josh placed second in the Lehigh Valley regional tournament, and second at the Pennsylvania State tournament. In 8th grade, he won the Lehigh Valley tournament, and placed second again at the State event. "Along the way," says Mindler, "my teachers greatly encouraged me and provided an environment that allowed me to prosper. Their encouragement ranged from having in-class competitions to coming with me to 'states' and other tournaments."
Software engineers conduct project performance analysis with systems engineer Josh Mindler (in striped shirt)
According to Mindler, "the skills I learned playing the 24® Game helped me tremendously when it came to algebra and calculus later in my mathematical career. To this day, the ability to deliver a quick response and apply mental-math skills greatly affect my daily life—everything from calculating a tip on a check to finding the estimated power correction factor for some of our components."
Mindler was hired at BAE Systems into the Engineering Leadership Development Program in 2008, after graduating from Syracuse University with degrees in both Aerospace Engineering and Mathematics, with a focus in Applied Statistics. BAE Systems is a global company engaged in the development and support of advanced defense, security and aerospace systems in the air, on land and at sea. "I am having a great time here, working on multiple interesting projects," says Mindler. "Currently, I am working on a project installing communication equipment onto Bradley vehicles (tanks). I am doing some of the networking and problem-solving associated with that."
Another of Mindler's projects entails placing networking equipment on Air Force 2’s—with the potential to be used on Air Force 1, the President's plane. "This project involves knowing the system configuration and ruggedizing the equipment for harsh environments," explains Mindler. “I am also writing graphic user interfaces (computer applications) for a multi-layer security switch, which can separate 'unclassified' from 'top-secret' data on the same switch.” Concurrently, Mindler is the lead for a process improvement team where he creates and follows statistical models for quantitative process improvement.
Mindler is quick to point out that his exciting career would not have been possible without a good education, lots of hard work, and, of course, great math skills. "I feel as though the 24 Challenge program had a great impact on my life, and I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without the skills and mental capacity that I gained through playing and practicing those 24 games!"
Norristown District Hosts Spectacular 24 Challenge® Event
NORRISTOWN, PA—On May 21, Norristown Area School District's administration building was teeming with students eager to participate in one of the most exciting and rigorous math tournaments around—the 24 Challenge. According to District Curriculum and Instruction Supervisor Donna Runner, the 2009 tournament was the district's 12th annual event.
Runner organized this year's contest with the support of math specialists from each building. "The 24 Challenge is always one of our most exciting academic endeavors," says Runner. "Students, parents, teachers...so many people get involved, it's really great to see." Students competing at the district-wide event were already winners at their individual schools, and were accompanied by their math teachers or coaches.
East Norriton Middle School principal, Steve Brandt, is a former Regional 24 Challenge Champion. Retired Mathematics Academic Coach for the School District of Philadelphia's Northwest Region, Cred Dobson, was one of the teachers directing that event, and remembers Brandt as a Shawmont Middle School student. Dobson, who now travels to Pennsylvania schools as an Ambassador for the First In Math® Online Program, says that events like Norristown's can have a great motivating effect on children. "We as educators and parents need to help students achieve, and show them that we value their academic achievements—it is a wonderful way to recognize the effort that these kids make every day in school.”
Dobson has high praise for the Norristown district. "I can't say enough about the energy that the Norristown folks have put into this program, and Donna has raised the tournament experience to a whole new level. The event is child-centered, and presents students with a safe, comfortable environment and appropriate resources to enhance their learning." The meticulously-organized event included playing tables covered with balloons and decorations in "24" colors, a magnificent display of trophies and prizes, and an outdoor "picnic" lunch for participants. Even mother nature cooperated with a near-perfect day.
Norristown District 2009 24 Challenge Winners:
Grade 4: 1st place - Matthew Piccari (Paul Fly); 2nd place - Dylan Copestick (Hancock); 3rd place - Ryan McCarthy (Paul Fly) and 4th place - Alicia Lai (Cole Manor)
Grade 5: 1st place - Calvin Wise (East Norriton); 2nd place - Helen Smith (East Norriton); 3rd place - Emani Guy (Stewart) and 4th place - Colleen Sheridan (East Norriton)
Grade 6: 1st place - Thomas Piccari (East Norriton); 2nd place - David Rollins-Nesmith (Stewart); 3rd place - Andrew Baltrus (East Norriton) and 4th place - Dan Limbaughen (Eisenhower)
Grade 7: 1st place - Benjamin Nguyen (Eisenhower); 2nd place - Richard Kelly (Stewart); 3rd place - Craig Madrak (East Norriton) and 4th place - Roderick Davis-Perry (East Norriton)
Grade 8: 1st place - Imani Flowers (East Norriton); 2nd place - Leslie Cuellar (East Norriton); 3rd place - Jessica Donovan (East Norriton) and 4th place - Ed Lohmeyer (East Norriton)
Below, pictured are some of the winners who stopped for the camera and posed with their trophies! From left to right:
Imani Flowers (East Norriton MS)
Ed Lohmeyer (East Norriton MS)
Benjamin Nguyen (Eisenhower MS)
Richard Kelly (Stewart MS)
Craig Madrak (East Norriton MS)
Roderick Davis-Perry (East Norriton MS
Emani Guy (Stewart MS)
Daniel Limbuan (Eisenhower MS)
David Rollins-Nesmith (Stewart MS)
Andrew Baltrus (East Norriton MS)
Thomas Piccari (East Norriton MS)
Calvin Wise (East Norriton MS)
Matthew Piccari (East Norriton MS)
Helen Smith (East Norriton MS)
Dylan Copestick (Hancock ES)
Ryan McCarthy (Paul Fly ES)
Winners Named at Lower Nazareth ES 24 Challenge® Tournament
NAZARETH, PA—Lower Nazareth Elementary School students gathered for their school’s annual 24 Challenge® Math Tournament on May 11, 2009. Mathematics Specialist Alton Mann and the entire LNES 5th grade staff helped organize the event, and Mann proctored the final Championship Round of play. “Everybody in the whole room had their eyes on that table,” according to Mann.
Fifth-grade teacher Stacey Spering served as a volunteer proctor, and was impressed with what she saw. “Every student in this room today is a winner,” says Spering.
All participants received 24® Game wristbands. Champions at each level each received a 24® Game Keychain and a First In Math® Lanyard and were also presented with enormous Hershey’s chocolate bars, courtesy of Mr. Mann. Grand Champion Jacob Brown was awarded a Gold Medal, and a travel-sized deck of game cards signed by 24® Game inventor Robert Sun.
“This time of year, elementary and middle schools all across the country are gearing up for their own tournaments—sharpening their math skills and having lots of fun in the process,” says Suntex Account Manager Cynthia Anderson, who attended the event. Anderson also recently visited Nazareth School District’s two other elementary schools, Bushkill and Shafer. “All of these talented students would normally move on to a District Competition held at the high school, unfortunately time constraints may prevent that from happening this year,” explains Anderson.
Stacey Spering and Alton Mann join (l to r): Alison Smith; Adam Hohner; Tanner DePalma; Jacob Brown (Champion) and Thomas Simone.
AMBLER, PA—Students, parents and siblings turned out in large numbers for Math Night at Lower Gwynedd Elementary on March 3. Students and their parents sampled twelve different Math activities, and the First In Math Online Program was the top draw, according to FIM Ambassador Cred Dobson. "Math Night was a blast at Gwynedd! We had three tables with 15 laptops at our station."
Left: Lower Gwynedd students and their parents check out the FIM site on Mac laptops. Top: Staff Developer Toby Grosswald and Elementary Curriculum Supervisor Dr. Kevin P. McAneny. Bottom: Principal Lawrence J. Feeley.
Lower Gwynedd Interim Principal Lawrence J. Feeley agrees that one of the most popular locations was indeed the First in Math Table, manned by Dobson, his wife Jennifer, and Lower Gwynedd Staff Developer Toby Grosswald. "Empty seats quickly filled as all were eager to participate, and to hear about First in Math." Feeley, who credits more than 20 staff members with the evening's success, says he is "hoping that future Math Nights at Lower Gwynedd Elementary will find Mr. and Mrs. Dobson back with us to share some of that First in Math excitement!"
In addition to the FIM table, 5th-grade teacher Roni Goodman entertained students at a separate 24® Game table. Goodman, a teacher at Lower Gwynedd for 12 years, used the 24® Game with her students before the First in Math program was implemented throughout the district. “I see how my 5th grade students improve number sense skills—problem solving is easier for them because they know the basic facts," says Goodman. "My data shows this, as my class is soaring through the national ranks in FIM. Right now we are the top team in our district!”
Dr. Kevin P. McAneny, Elementary Curriculum Supervisor, also attended the annual event, which seeks to involve students and their families in an evening of math fun and adventure. Another way the school involves family members is through a component of the First In Math program know as "Family Link". Family Link allows parents and siblings access to the site, providing a mechanism for students and families to spur each other on to greater mathematics achievement. Dobson's wife, Jennifer Hawkins, a School-Based Math Teacher Leader at C. W. Henry ES in Philadelphia, attended Math Night to help out at the FIM station, and liked what she saw. "Lower Gwynedd students show a real enthusiasm for learning and willingness to try new things, and I saw lots of encouragement and support from both staff and parents. Kudos to Ms. Grosswald for getting such a wonderful turnout at this math event!"
LITTLE ROCK, AR—Representatives from the First In Math® program attended the inaugural Conference on the Mathematics Teaching, Learning, and Research of African American Students November 13-14. The 2008 conference, sponsored by the Benjamin Banneker Association, was titled "Unlocking the Doors of Excellence in Mathematics for African American Students."
"The conference was a wonderful way for teachers and exhibitors to share ideas and work on mathematics excellence, including ways to close the achievement gap," says FIM Support Specialist Nancy Kane. FIM Ambassador Cred Dobson, agrees, adding "The professional excellence of this event was a thing of beauty—kudos to Conference Chair Vanessa Cleaver."
Left: Minnijean Brown-Trickey and Nancy Kane. Right: Cred Dobson demos FIM to several educators
There were dozens of workshops, a panel discussion featuring Dorothy Strong, and Dobson's own presentation, titled: "First In Math - A Proven, Innovative Online Program." Dobson maintains that the highlight of the conference was meeting Minnijean Brown-Trickey, one of the "Little Rock Nine" who helped desegregate Little Rock Central High School in 1957. According to Dr. Lou Edward Matthews, Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Urban Mathematics Education and President of the Benjamin Banneker Association, “The conference was inspirational for us all! In the span of 48 hours we bonded together as a family—the Little Rock 300. This is what movements are made of.”
Benjamin Banneker was born in Maryland in 1731. The son of a former slave, Banneker did not let race nor age hinder his quest for intellectual development. He was a farmer, scholar, mathematical wizard, astronomer and surveyor. At age 58, Banneker taught himself the science of astronomy; making projections for solar and lunar eclipses and computing tables on the locations of celestial bodies for almanacs. Also a social activist, Banneker wrote a long letter to then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson—in which he made a case for equality for African Americans—that was given wide publicity. In 1980, the U.S. Postal Service issued a postage stamp to honor his achievements as the first African American scientist.
SOMEREST, NJ—Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey (AMTNJ) President John Hammett presented a plaque to 24 Game inventor Robert Sun at the association's annual conference, held at the Somerset Crowne Plaza Hotel on October 23 and 24.
Past President of AMTNJ and long-time 24® Game supporter, Joan Vas, poses with Sun and the plaque, which states: "The Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey Gratefully Acknowledges the Financial Support of SUNTEX International Inc. for Special Events at the AMTNJ Two-Day Conference, Somerset New Jersey, October 23-24, 2008."
During a Suntex-sponsored breakfast on the morning of the 23rd, Sun spoke to educators about the First In Math® Online Program. "It was really exciting to speak with so many enthusiastic educators," said Sun, who also said he was completely surprised by the acknowledgement.
"In accepting this beautiful gift on behalf of Suntex, I want to thank all of our long-time friends at AMTNJ, as well as all of the new friends we've made here in New Jersey," said Sun.
The theme of this year's two-day event was "Making Math Meaningful."
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA—Australia got it's first taste of 24 Challenge® excitement with a mini-event held at Forest Hill College in June, 2008. The competition was sponsored by Brainy Days, an online toy and game store that is the exclusive source for all things 24® in Australia.
"We are proud to be involved in this inaugural event, which has seen one of the most successful maths tournaments in the world come to Australia," says Brainy Days' Director Lyell Purcell. "What makes this tournament unique is the buildup to the event, which encourages all students to develop and stregthen foundations in their understanding of maths literacy." In addition to providing 24® game materials free-of-charge to schools, Brainy Days also provided medals and certificates to students.
Three more events, North/West Melbourne Region-September 2; Eastern Melbourne Region-September 3 and the Southern Melbourne Region-September 4 allowed hundreds of children to participate. Click here for more coverage on the Brainy Days website!
LEFT PHOTO: Year 3/4 Semi-finalists, l to r: Jasper Chen (Livingston Primary); Isaac Vanrossen (Mountain District Christian School); Michelle Huang (Parkmore Primary) and Nethmi Ekanalyake (Clayton Primary).
RIGHT PHOTO: Champions, l to r: Year 3/4 Ken Xie, Year 5/6 - Henry Cui , Year 7/8 - Khoa Nguyen.
Former 24 Challenge® Champ Raina Jain Follows in Sister's
Footsteps, Winning Prestigious International Science Award
ATLANTA, GA—Raina Jain, a freshman at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has become the youngest high-school student in the world to win an award at the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Jain, who celebrated her 14th birthday during the five-day event in Atlanta, was just 13 when she entered the competition. The Intel ISEF is the crowning achievement of science competitions around the world, and students from more than 50 countries participated.
If this all sounds somewhat familiar, it is because last year Raina's sister, Isha, won a grand prize in the Zoology category of the Intel International Science and Engineering Research Fair. Isha will attend Harvard University this fall.
"It was absolutely amazing," Raina says of her five days at the 2008 Intel event. "I got to meet kids that are just like me; they love science." Jain's mother Sweety, a family practice physician at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Allentown, is very proud of both her girls, and points out, "we are a science family." Her husband, Himanshu Jain, a materials science engineering professor at Lehigh University, agrees, adding, "it's great—we must be doing something right."
Both sisters are also former 24 Challenge® Pennsylvania State Champions—Isha in 2003 and Raina in 2004. "When I first met both of these girls, I knew they'd go on to do special things," recalls 24® Game inventor Robert Sun. Raina is an incredibly hard worker, and has taken high school classes since eighth grade. On the road to Atlanta, Raina won first place in the engineering category and a silver in all 13 categories in the regional science fair competition. She has also won special awards from the Society of Women Engineers, Centocor Inc., the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers and the most recently the Parenteral Drug Association on June 17.
Is there any rivalry between the two science-whiz sisters at home? "Not really," according to Raina. "The real rivalry is clothes," says big sister Isha, "definitely clothes."
Trenton Public SD Holds 2nd Annual 24 Challenge® Competition
TRENTON, NJ—Friday June 13 turned out to be a lucky day for more than 75 Trenton Public School District students, as they made it to the finals of a district-wide 24 Challenge Tournament.
"This year's 24 Challenge Tournament was great. Everything worked very well, and we had 15 teams from different schools compete," said event organizer Debra T. Cunningham, Instructional Technology Teacher Specialist for the Trenton Public School District. "Next year, I hope to have our tournament earlier in the year, and then host a Mercer County Regional Tournament in June."
Students and teachers alike enjoyed the 24 Challenge event.
"We are serious about mathematics education, and also have more than 60 Teams engaged in the First In Math Online Program," says Cunningham, who coordinates the program for the Trenton Board of Education. Parker Elementary School was once again a Garden-State powerhouse, with it's top team, "Snow52NJ" placing #1 in NJ and #14 among the nation's Top 100 Teams. Parker ES boasted the #1 team in the nation, all grades, in the 2006-2007 school year (read story).
First In Math and 24 Game Part of the
"Miracle" at Pittsburgh Catholic School
PITTSBURGH, PA—Sometimes referred to by it's Principal as 'the Miracle on Greenridge Drive,' St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin School is home to the nation's #1 eighth-grade First In Math Team for the 2007-2008 school year. Team "Boss50PA" is also ranked #7 nationally, all grades, according to Suntex Vice President Barbara Asteak. Asteak paid a visit to the school in May to attend a special celebration, along with FIM Program Director Mark Losey, himself a Pittsburgh native. "This is one of our school's proudest moments," said Principal Barbara Sawyer.
The Allegheny county school has also participated in many local 24 Challenge® tournaments, and in 2003 and 2004, St. Gabriel students made it all the way to the semi-final round of the Pennsylvania State Championships.
Left: Team Leader Lois Doerfler and Brett Dadig. Right: Team Boss50PA, which also included two advanced 5th graders and several 6th and 7th graders, poses along with Principal Barbara Sawyer (back row).
As the only non-tuition school in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, St. Gabriel is demanding of any curriculum supplement it chooses. "What a great teaching tool First In Math has become" says Sawyer, pointing out that all five of their teams had 100% activation. "We wish to applaud Suntex for providing an outstanding way to motivate students so thoroughly that they beg our math teacher to teach them more!"
"Boss" Team Leader Lois Doerfler agrees, explaining that interest in the competition accelerates the learning process. "Because students want to solve more levels of the game, they're actually asking to learn something in math," says Doerfler. Brett Dadig, the team's # 1 player, has earned more than 18,300 stickers since September.
LOS ANGELES, CA—Robert Sun , inventor of the 24® Game and creator of the First In Math® Online Program was presented with a 2008 Asian Entrepreneur of the Year Award at a May 23rd event hosted by Asian Enterprise Magazine. Sun, who serves as Chairman and CEO of Suntex International Inc., was handpicked by the Awards Committee for being a source of inspiration for the Asian Pacific American business community, and was recognized in the Engineering category.
Sun accepts his award from publisher of Asian Enterprise Magazine WiIly Borromeo, left, and then addresses the audience.
The 15th Annual Awards Program and banquet—themed “In Pursuit of Excellence"—was held at the historic Millenium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. According to Asian Enterprise Magazine, "It is our way of recognizing exemplary leaders who have stood behind the spirit of Asian Pacific American small business enterprise." Sponsors of this year's event included Walmart, Pepsico, Sodexho, The Coca Cola Company, IBM, Chrysler, Harrah’s and Morgan Stanley.
"It is a great honor to be presented with this award," says Sun, who also received letters from Chairman of the Congressional Pacific Asian Caucus Mike Honda and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In his address to the audience, Sun said “Asian Americans are eager to hone our talents so that we can make significant contributions to strengthen this great nation called America that we now call home.”
Master of Ceremonies was Angela Baraquio-Grey, Miss America 2001. A former teacher, Baraquio-Grey founded a non-profit organization that promotes education and provides scholarships to students and teachers. Corporate representatives from Fortune 500 companies and political figures were present at the event, and Ralph Alvarez, President and COO, McDonald's Corporation, was the keynote speaker.
Other notable AEY recipients included: Overall winner Dr. Karen Eng; Governor Bobby Jindal, State of Louisiana - Public Servant Advocate; Indra Nooyi, Pepsico CEO - CEO Advocate; Jim Skinner McDonald's Corp. CEO - CEO Advocate and Esther Silver-Parker, Senior Vice President of Diversity Relations, Walmart - Special Advocate.
Cabarrus County Holds Middle Schools
24 Challenge® Competition
CONCORD, NC—“Try your best and practice,” says eleven-year-old Quade Robinson, who finished first among 180 middle school students competing at the Cabarrus County Schools 24 Challenge® Wednesday, April 30, at the Boys & Girls Club of Cabarrus County. Robinson attends C.C. Griffin Middle School in Concord.
Given the recent success of the elementary school challenge, ( See story below ) middle school teachers Karen Abraham from Northwest Cabarrus and Jennifer Riordan of Mount Pleasant approached tournament organizer and Cabarrus County Schools Education Center's AIG Coordinator, Ann Burr, about hosting a middle school competition. “We needed something for our middle school kids to exemplify academic excellence,” says Abraham.
Burr agreed. “These math tournaments are about more than getting the right answer, it’s about creating a new generation of thinkers.”
Mary Beth Roth, the school system’s middle school director, said the 24® game helps sharpen students’ critical thinking skills. C.C. Griffin teacher Julie Coble agreed, adding that children involved in the 24 Challenge® tend to be self-motivated and enjoy playing the game in their spare time.
Other finalists were Wyatt Taylor of Northwest Cabarrus; Harrison Rieff of Concord, and Toma Mamulashvili of C.C. Griffin. Each received gold medals.
Saint Laurence School's Dedication To
First In Math® and 24® Game Pays Off
UPPER DARBY, PA—As the clock ticks toward the deadline for the First In Math Online Program National Top Ten Awards, St. Laurence School is becoming a force to reckon with in the program. The K-8 Catholic school is currently ranked #1 among all grades in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, and ranked #22, all grades, among more than 1,000 participating schools in Pennsylvania. In addition, 6th grader James O'Shea is the #3-ranked player in the nation, all grades, with more than 28,000 stickers.
"I play four or five times a week for about 30 minutes," says O'Shea, explaining his strategy. "I like to choose the game at random and work on it until I finish the level. Most of the time it comes natural to me, but if I have a problem I stay with it until I solve it."
Number one team in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, Vista61PA. James O'Shea holds the team's First In Math traveling trophy.
St. Laurence School loves the First in Math Program, according to Math Coordinator Ann Char. "On April 11 we had a First In Math Marathon—every computer in the school was on the site. Every class had 30 minutes in the lab and classroom computers were available to the students as they finished their work. A group of sixth graders even opted to use the lab during lunch recess!"
"Our Home & School Association pays for the program each year, and we are grateful for their support," says Principal Sister Helen Thomas. Teachers, students, and parents are all seeing benefits. "While students are enjoying the healthy competition, teachers find that students are not only mastering basic skills but are also motivated to become independent learners. Parents are enthusiastic that the children are engaged in a safe online activity."
Recognition of the students' success plays an important role in the program, according to Char. "Our Principal encourages the students over the loudpseaker and gives regular updates on their progress. We also have a First in Math Wall of Champions where we post the leaders in each homeroom."
"Saint Laurence truly believes in the FIM program, and in the 24® Game," says Char. "In addition to our FIM activities, we have an after-school club for children who wish to play the 24 game, and about 30 students stay after school on Mondays to compete using official tournament rules." The school is planning to host a mini tournament at its Academic Fair in May, with the hopes of expanding to a regional competiiton in Delaware County next year. In the past, when there were citywide 24 Challenge® tournaments, St. Laurence was always well represented. For several years, the Delaware county winner was a St. Laurence student.
Valley of Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics 2008 Winners
FISHERSVILLE, VA—The bleachers were filled with hundreds of family, friends and spectators as the Valley of Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics (VVCTM) and James Madison University held it's Second Annual Regional 24 Challenge® Tournament on March 31. Approximately 100 students from 17 elementary schools across Augusta County, Rockingham County, and Harrisonburg City Schools participated in the competition.
VVCTM-JMU 2008 Champions, left to right: Sierra Reynolds; Grand Champion Jeff Bailey; Jordan Graham and Codie Mclainy.
"This is a great opportunity to show everyone that we teach and emphasize computation skills in our elementary schools," says L. Harvey Almarode, Instructor of Elementary Mathematics Methods and Strategies in the College of Education at James Madison University. "Parents and visitors are amazed at the speed and accuracy of the competition."
Almarode began conducting 24 Challenge® Tournaments in Augusta County 10 years ago when he was Mathematics Supervisor for Augusta County. "Upon my retirement from Augusta County and in my new job at James Madison University, I was asked to expand the event to a regional tournament and VVCTM agreed to fund the endeavor," says Almarode. Augusta County Schools funded the entire operation through Mathematics Instruction. "I am available to visit individual schools and assist teachers in conducting class, grade-level, or school tournaments. This year I organized 12 different school-based tournaments throughout the region, and am scheduled for five school tournaments at new schools in May."
Suntex Vice President Barbara Asteak attended the competition, and came away impressed with what she saw. "This was a very unique event, in the way that technology was incorporated into the final rounds," explains Asteak. Semifinal rounds utilized document-cams and LCD projectors to display the game cards on large screens, allowing the audience to see the games being played.
Representatives from Rochbridge County, Rappohannock County and Staunton City schools attended the tournament as observers, so they can start conducting their own 24 Challenge® event in the spring. As for Almarode, he says he's ready for 2009. "I am already making plans for next year with the inclusion of the Variables cards in the mix!"
Cabarrus County Announces 2008 24 Challenge® Grand Champion!
CONCORD, NC—On March 14, 2008, 142 students from all 18 Cabarrus County Elementary Schools had an opportunity to compete for the title of 2008 Cabarrus County Schools 24 Challenge® Champion.
Cabarrus County Schools Education Center's Academically and Intellectually Gifted Coordinator, Ann Burr, says that the 24 Challenge Math Program is an excellent educational initiative that helps students develop mathematical skills such as pattern sensing, problem solving and mental math. "Research has shown that the 24® game is engaging and challenging mathematically, but most of all is fun for students. The kids absolutely love 24!"
Weddington Hills Elementary Assistant Principal Adam Auerbach poses with Nicole and her trophy.
After several rounds of tough tournament play, Dr. Colleen Sain, Assistant Superintendent for Cabarrus County Schools, presented the 2008 Champion's trophy to 5th grader Nicole. Congratulations to all the students that participated in this year's event, you are ALL winners!
BOSTON, MA—The eleventh annual Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament (HMMT) was held on Saturday, February 23, 2008, at Harvard University. The HMMT is an annual math tournament for high-school students, held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and at Harvard University in alternate years. It is run exclusively by MIT and Harvard students.
With more than 700 participants competing in various events, HMMT is one of the largest math contests in the United States. Five individual tests—a General Test and four subject tests in Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, and Combinatorics, as well as two team events—comprise the major events of the tournament. A portion of the day is also devoted to numerous mini-events. "Our 24 Challenge mini-tournament was small—about 30 people participated—but all were excited to play the game," says Doris Dobi, who ran the event. "A lot of people even wanted to buy the 24 game decks from me afterward!"
"On behalf of the staff of the 2008 Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament, I want to thank Suntex International for sponsoring us," said Yi-Hsin Lin, one of the 2008 Tournament Directors. "The Tournament was a great success, and I think all of the students enjoyed themselves."
Vice President of Suntex Makes Presentation to the
National Math Advisory Panel
ST. LOUIS, MO—Barbara Asteak, Vice President of Suntex International Inc., presented the First In Math® Online Program to members of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel in September. The panel will be making recommendations on supplementary programs to President Bush and Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling later this year. Asteak began her remarks by quoting Albert Einstein, who believed that “Games are the most elevated form of investigation.”
"As the developer of the innovative 24® Game, we are committed to supporting and enhancing math education," Asteak told the panel. "Five years ago, we combined our successful 24® Game series with the power of internet technology to create the First In Math® Online Program—a program with a proven track record of improving math skills and raising overall test scores."
"It was an honor to speak in front of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel," says Asteak, from her Easton, PA office. "It is my sincere hope that EVERY student will someday have access to this wonderful program, which not only helps students develop an enthusiasm for learning, but fosters a belief in their ability to succeed."
The School District of Philadelphia's Northwest Region
Holds 24 Challenge® Event
PHILADELPHIA, PA—The School District of Philadelphia's Northwest Region held it's own 24 Challenge® Tournament on May 23, 2007. The event, sponsored by First In Math® Ambassador Cred Dobson, was held in the auditorium of Leeds Middle School. More than 120 students attended from schools throughout the Northwest Region. Students in grades four through eight competed for Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, in addition to a hotly-contested Platinum Masters competition. Each student recieved a certificate, a "First in Math®" silicone bracelet and a Championship T-shirt for making it to the Regional Finals.
Prince Hall Elementary teacher and "24" coach Hope Thomas and two of her students, fourth-grader Marcus Gary and fifth-grader Andre Stokes, share a moment as they wait for the tournament to begin.
More than 50 parents and supporters attended the competition. Regional Superintendent Linda Grobman, Director of Instruction Jacqueline Greene and Director of School Services Stephen Spence were the official chairs of the event. Dobson, a retired Academic Coach in Mathematics for the Northwest Region, extended kudos to Regional and School staff members for stepping up to make the event an overwhelming success. "I'd like to give a special salute to the school Principals, for personally providing lunch for everyone," said Dobson, nodding to the Principals who dropped in to personally encourage their students.
The 2007 Northwest Region Grand Champions are:
Grade 4: Lonelle Fogan (McCloskey); Justin Brown (Rowen); Selean Ridley (A B Day)
Grade 5: Mary Evelyn Saunders ((Rowen); Uchedma Ibegbulem (A B Day); Jason Bright (Henry)
Grade 6: Consetta Clark (Wagner MS); Shavar Anson (Edmonds); Melissa Nelson (Kinsey)
Grade 7: Dasahaya Foreman (Hill Freedman); Frederick Adams (Lingelbach); Laborah Myles (Wagner)
Grade 8 : Darian Roberson (Wagner); Charde Hudson (Houston); Denzel McGill (Leeds)
Platinum Masters: Terrell Morris (Linglebach) and Ahmeen Cooper (Leeds) tied for The Gold Medal; James Hanible (Hill-Freedman) won the Silver Medal
Left: Fifth-grader Mary Evelyn Saunders of Rowen Elementary states her answer, while fellow fifth-grader Ucheoma Ibegulem of Anna B Day Elementary listens intently to make sure it is correct. Right: NWR Director of Instruction Jackie Greene presented medals to many deserving recipients, such as Terrell Morris of Lingelbach, as the awards were announced.
©2007 - Photos courtesy NW Region
The School District of Philadelphia's
Center City Region Holds Exciting Event
PHILADELPHIA, PA—More than 100 students participated in the School District of Philadelphia's Center City Region 24 Challenge® event on May 17 at the University of the Sciences Wilson Student Center. "Competition was pretty intense," said First In Math® Ambassador Cred Dobson. "There was one young lady in particular at a table I proctored who made mincemeat of some of the gentlemen. It was exciting to watch her play."
Winners were awarded First In Math® bracelets and 24 Challenge® T-shirts donated by Suntex International, as well as a chocolate rose and a chocolate 'number 24' wrapped in school-district blue and white ribbon. Each student, proctor and principal received a t-shirt designed by an eighth grade student in the Arthur School, plus a certificate of participation designed and created by Mrs. Beth Roth, Center City Region Technology Leader.
Center City Region Grand Champions are:
Grade 4/5: 1-Gomian Konneh (Masterman); 2-Julian Roessler (Masterman); 3-Richard Bryant (Kearny)
Grade 6 : 1-Enxhi Rrapi (Masterman); 2-Luke McHugh (Meredith); 3-Shakira McEachin (Spring Garden)
Grade 7/8: 1-Stephen Smith (Masterman); 2-Jasmine Alston (E. M. Stanton); 3-Chima Nwakpuda (Spring Garden)
Platinum Masters: Ao Kong (McCall) and Chiddi Nwakpuda (Spring Garden)
First-, second- and third-place trophies were awarded for grades 4/5, 6, 7/8 and Platinum Masters levels. Platinum winners Ao Kong and Chiddi Nwakpuda and their Math 24 Leaders were invited to a luncheon where they will receive additional awards from District Superintendent Dr. Janet C. Samuels. Kong, a sixth-grader at McCall, is also the #2 student in the First In Math® Online program, outperforming more than 200,000 students in all grades across the nation and amassing more than 23,000 stickers along the way. She was named a "First In Math® National All-Star." Barbara Asteak, V.P. of Suntex International visited McCall on April 10th, 2007, to personally recognize Ao for her achievement. ( read story at www.firstinmath.com )
"Thanks go to Thelma Silber, School Growth Teacher at Chester A. Arthur School, who serves as "24" coach for the Center City Region, for organizing a great event for students," said Dobson. "Mrs. Silber was able to arrange sponsorship from companies including PECO, the Philadelphia Dance Acadamy, Everyday Mathematics and T-Shirtz Inc. to help defray the cost of the competition."
"The Center City Region feels honored, and appreciates you rearranging your schedule in order to attend our competition," responded Silber, who also went on to thank all of the students and proctors for their participation.
Left to right: School District of Philadelphia Collaborating Teacher of Math Alwina Green; Cred Dobson; SDP Coordinator Cynthia Powell and Thelma "24" Silber.
Photo courtesy Beth Roth
First In Math® Program Receives 5-Star Rating from
MultiMedia & Internet @ Schools
MEDFORD, NJ—The First In Math® program received an overall Rating of "5 Stars" in the March/April Issue of the MultiMedia & Internet @ Schools E-newsletter. Written by Sally Finley, a Florida-based Gifted/Technology teacher, the comprehensive review details and rates features of the program.
First In Math® Report Card
Ease of Use: A
Product Support: A
"This is one of the most innovative, creative, and challenging math tools I have seen in years," says Finley, who offers hints for classroom application and recommendations along with her comments. To access the article on the MultiMedia & Internet @ Schools website, go to www.mmischools.com, and click Current Issues. (If you are not already a MM&I@S member, you will have to sign in to access the full text of the review.
Former 24 Challenge® Champ Wins Award at the Intel
International Science and Engineering Research Fair
BETHLEHEM, PA— There are always a few "24 kids" who make such a lasting impression that they are remembered even after many years have passed. One such former competitor is Isha Jain , now a 10th-grader at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Jain recently placed fourth in the Zoology category of the Intel International Science and Engineering Research Fair for her project, "Cell Proliferation is Episodic and Pulsatile During Growth of Zebrafish Fins". The energetic sophomore researched fin growth at the "fish lab" at Lehigh University to increase understanding of development that could be applied to humans.
"My project involved looking at the rate of cell division within Zebrafish fin bone segments," explains Jain. "The goal was to understand the pattern of bone growth in this model system. The Zebrafish serves as an excellent paradigm for human morphological development."
Isha, who has always liked math and numbers, outlined the role that her math skills played in her research. "There were two mathematical components in my analysis. I integrated (using rectangular approximations) the data sets and compared the ratios in two different bone rays with the ratio of their volumes. Also, to statistically verify the results, the F-ratio test statistic and the computer program Minitab was used."
In addition to the prestigious Intel award, Isha has also garnered a United States Air Force 2nd place award, the Endocrine Society Honorable Mention Award and the Cook Group Incorporated award. Cook is the leading manufacturer of non-invasive medical devices and has offered Isha an internship to work on genetic experiments.
Isha won the PA State 24 Challenge Championship Finals in 2003, competing at the Platinum Masters level. Her sister, Raina, was also a PA State winnner in 2004.