WARREN – In a competition that emphasizes brains rather than brawn, more than a hundred students from a dozen Trumbull County schools competed to win top honors.
Zachary Hilliard has been competing in the Challenge 24 math competition since he was introduced to it by his fourth-grade teacher.
The Jefferson K-8 student says he simply likes the thrill of competition with students he has not previously met.
“I like seeing what strategies that are used to compete,” Hilliard said Wednesday evening inside the Warren G. Harding gymnasium.
Challenge 24 tests the math skills of students in grades 4 through 8 by having them look at cards containing four numbers of any combination of 1 to 9, and then requiring them to use addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to come up with the final number of 24.
Competitors may use each number on the card only once. Four students at each table compete to win the highest number of cards by the end of each round.
The first student to come up with an answer taps the table and recites the steps they took to arrive at the number 24.
Students can earn up to two penalties can by giving incorrect answers.
Challenge 24 was developed in 1988 by Robert Sun to give students a fun way to discover patterns among numbers.
Each card in the game is marked by one, two or three dots to indicate its level of difficulty. Generally, the higher number of dots, the more challenging the card will be.
Teams for the Trumbull County Challenge 24 were selected as a result of tournaments held in individual schools.
Prizes were awarded for the top four finishers in four grade levels. The competition was sponsored by Trumbull County ESC and the Tribune Chronicle.
Zorien Emerson, 12, a 7th grade student from Jefferson K-8, says he likes the fact that there is more than one way to solve math problems.
“I like the how the problems get progressively harder, but you can get more points,” Emerson said. “It was my sister and my cousin that introduced me to Challenge 24. They were legends.”
As the competition progresses, the students often are figuring their answers on seemingly invisible chalkboards in the air while explaining the answers to proctors.
They collect the cards that have the questions to determine how many points they earn during each round of the contest.
The game requires both speed and knowledge how to determine the answers.
Maddie Petrosky, 13, Lakeview High School competed for the first time in the countywide competition.
“I learned a lot,” she said. “I studied with my friends in school. We made t-shirts for the competition.”
Joseph Badger Schools had three students, Cassie Forsha, Clayton Jablonski and Miranda Stanhope, competing in the final round of the Challenge 24 competition.
Jablonski won the top honors for the 6th graders. Stanhope came in second and Jablonski ranked third in the 6th grade competition. They are longtime friends and competitors.