Pottstown Kids Slice, Dice Numbers On Their Way To ’24’

The concentration was as intense as the competition during Pottstown's Math 24 contest

POTTSTOWN PA – It may be hard to imagine that doing mathematical calculations can be fun, but for third, fourth, and fifth grade students in Pottstown School District elementary schools their “Math 24” competition is a highlight of the year, district spokesman John Armato says.

Rupert Elementary School Principal Matt Moyer and his staff recently hosted the contest, which requires students to use various math strategies to calculate answers of quiz questions. The event was attended by many parents, but “no, thanks,” they muttered; unlike their children, they seemed unwilling to tackle these math problems without the benefit of a calculator, pencil, or paper.

Math 24 was created in 1988 by successful inventor Robert Sun and his Easton PA company, Suntex International Inc., as a way to teach children the relationship between numbers through a game. The players’ objective is to make the number 24 from four numbers on a game card. They can add, subtract, multiply and divide, and use all four numbers on the card, but use each number only once.

“This is an outstanding … opportunity for our students to recognize that math is not a scary subject, and that education can be fun, ” Moyer observed.

To prepare for the competition, several schools allowed students to practice by organizing Math 24 clubs that met before and after school. Some buildings showed their school spirit by making tee-shirts for their teams to wear.

The day’s focus was fun and education. Assisting teachers in judging were middle school students who were previous Math 24 participants. No scores were kept, no top honors given, but each participating student received a Math 24 award and a coupon for a free meal at Applebee’s Restaurant in Pottstown.

Even without the food incentive, Armato noted, it was evident during the day “that the students simply loved to play the game.”

Photo from the Pottstown School District