Top Challenge 24 players compete in regional event

WARREN – Fifth-grade student Josh Khavari has some pretty universal advice for life.

“The trick is you have to be quick with your mind,” the student at H.C. Mines Intermediate in Howland said.

Khavari is sort of an expert when it comes to thinking quickly, as he captured the top spot in his grade at Tuesday evening’s regional Challenge 24 math tournament at Warren G. Harding High School.

The tournament brought the top 64 students from Trumbull County and the top 64 from Mahoning together to test each other’s math skills.

The event was sponsored by the Tribune Chronicle, Time Warner, Town Crier Community Newspapers and Trumbull County Educational Service Center.

Teams for the Trumbull County Challenge 24 were selected as a result of tournaments held in individual schools.

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 by giving incorrect answers.

A second-place finisher at last year’s regional competition, Khavari said part of the challenge is making sure that you have the composure to match your mental abilities.

“You have to remember to take deep breaths during the first two rounds,” Khavari said. “If you don’t, you won’t even be able to get to the third round and the final round.”

For the first time, a team from outside Trumbull and Mahoning Counties took part in the event, as a group from Dover made the hour-and-a-half trip to compete.

A group of 12 fifth- and sixth-grade students from the Dover City School District out of Tuscarawas County were led by Dover High School senior Jacob Schaffer, a former Boardman resident and competitor in Challenge 24.

Schaffer said that youths in his county do not have a similar competition, so he wanted to bring one of the best memories of his childhood to Dover students.

“I think that competition is part of human nature, and while some kids perform well athletically, others are better at different things,” Schaffer, who will be attending Ohio State University this fall, said. “I decided I wanted to work with the kids in my district and when I thought about where to bring them, I knew I wanted to bring the kids to where I used to compete.”