WARREN - Ethan Stishan sat straight up in his chair and smiled when he realized he had calculated a winning combination.
"You really have to think it all through," said the 11-year-old LaBrae Middle School sixth-grader. It can be pretty hard."
When it comes to Challenge 24, the answer always is the same. The key is in determining how, by adding, subtracting, multiplying and / or dividing four numbers, you can make them total 24.
Warren G. Harding is site of "mathletes" playing the game.
Ethan earned the top spot in his grade Thursday night during the 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.
The Tribune Chronicle brought the tournament back to the Mahoning Valley this year after a five-year hiatus. The newspaper started sponsoring Challenge 24 after Nathan Ritchey of Youngstown State University introduced the newspaper to the game in 2007, said Sue Shafer, Tribune Chronicle events coordinator. The last regional tournament was in 2007.
Dan Stark, center, math teacher at Warren Jefferson K-8, oversees a table of sixth-graders at the Challenge 24 tournament Thursday at Warren G. Harding. Students, clockwise from left, include Iviont Williams, 11, Jefferson K-8; Chuckie Clauss Jr., 12, Warren Willard K-8; Neha Shah, 12, Boardman Glenwood Middle School; and Ethan Stishan, 11, LaBrae Middle School. Photo by Virginia Shank
Similar tournaments are held in cities across the country.
Each student received a specially designed event T-shirt and certificate of participation. Time Warner also gave out additional prizes to the top four winners in each of four age divisions.
The object of the game is for the students, in groups of four, to compute the four numbers on each card after a proctor, often a teacher, places it on the table. The first student to tap the puzzle card and get the right answer wins the points for the card. Cards contain four numbers of any combination of 1 to 9, and competitors must apply addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills to those numbers to come up with the answer of 24.
Regional Tournament Winners
First: Jared Tucker, 9, Dobbins Elementary School, Poland
Second: Sirin Nalluri, 9, St. Charles, Boardman
Third: Andrew Theophanous, 9, Austintown Middle School
Fourth: Tyler Berry, 10, Dobbins Elementary School, Poland
First: Lydia Walls, 11, Howland Middle School
Second: Stevan Glisic, 10, Howland North Road
Third: Shawn Korpi, 11, Glenwood Middle School, Boardman
Fourth: Alex Stoneman, 10, St. Charles School, Boardman
First: Ethan Stishan, 11, LaBrae Middle School
Second: Pranav Padmanabhan, 11, Glenwood Middle School, Boardman
Third: Makayla D'Eramo, 12, Glenwood Middle School, Boardman
Fourth: Noah Landry, 11, Poland McKinley Elementary School
Grades 7 & 8
First: Sidney Drake, 13, Newton Falls Junior High
Second: Jordan Rawl, 13, Rayen Early College, Youngstown City Schools
Third: LaRazia Tolbert, 14, Chaney STEM, Youngstown City Schools
Fourth: Mikayla Finely, 13, Willard K-8, Warren
How it works
Object: Groups of four students compute four numbers on each card by addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, to reach an answer of 24. The first student to tap the puzzle card and get the right answer wins the points for the card.
Example: A card with numbers 4, 2, 1 and 3 can be computed as follows: Multiply 4 by 2 to reach 8. Multiply that answer, 8, x 1 to remain at 8. Then multiply by 3 to equal 24.
The students collected the cards they computed correctly and at the end of each round their scores were figured by the proctor assisting them.
Most puzzles are solved within five seconds. However, some cards have no solutions.
Karen Zagorec, a seventh-grade math teacher at Warren City Schools Willard K-8 building who served as a proctor, said the activity provides students with an opportunity to compete in an academic challenge.
"Not every student is good at sports or other activities, but it's nice that they can participate in something like this," she said. "I really think it builds their confidence. My students have been practicing for this since September. It really gives them something to work out, that anyone can really practice and participate in, and improve their math skills at the same time."
Neha Shah, 12, a sixth-grader at Boardman's Glenwood Middle School, said some cards are easier to calculate than others.
"It's never the same, really," she said. "You never really know what card you're going to get, what numbers will be on it, and the best way to figure it out. It can be hard. But it really makes you feel good when you figure it out. That's what makes it fun."