Concentrating on calculating numbers on a card to arrive at the answer "24" was on the minds of more than 140 fourth- to eighth-grade students from public and parochial schools in Mahoning County who competed Wednesday in the annual Challenge 24 tournament.
The event was held at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center and co-hosted by Time Warner Cable, Mahoning Valley Parent Magazine and Town Crier newspapers.
The students competed in 12- to 15-minute rounds at tables of four students, with the top 16 from each grade moving to the advanced rounds.
Amy Wilson, managing editor of Parent Magazine and Town Crier newspapers, said the event is about more than math skills, but about students practicing and using mental math and learning to quickly calculate figures in their heads.
''The children are amazing. The tournament cards we use are different than the ones the students and schools buy. That way they won't see the same cards they practice with when they compete,'' Wilson said.
Wilson herself is familiar with the competition. Her son, Jarod, a seventh-grader, competed in past years. She said she knows the amount of practicing children do to prepare for the event.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Margaret Thompson
Sixth-graders Jenna Jacobson of McKinley Elementary in Poland and Patrick Kennedy of Glenwood Middle in Boardman study the Challenge 24 card Wednesday in Canfield.
She said the students in fourth to sixth grades use addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to total the four numbers on the card to 24. Students in seventh and eighth grades also have fractions, square roots and variables on their cards to total 24.
Points are determined on the degree of difficulty of individual cards.
Wilson said at the end of each round, the card totals are added up,with high scores advancing.
Grade 4: Michael Pastella,
Stadium Drive, Boardman
Grade 5: Jared Tucker,
Grade 6: Noah Robinson,
Boardman Glenwood Middle
Grades 7-8: Pranav Padmanabhan, Boardman Glenwood Middle
Grade 4: Ian Knaus,
Stadium Drive, Boardman
Grade 5: Tyler Berry,
Grade 6: Alex Stoneman,
St. Charles, Boardman
Grades 7-8: Noah Landry,
Annabelle Scianna, a fourth-grader from St. Charles in Boardman, competed for the first time Wednesday.
''Math is my favorite subject in school and I like how the Challenge 24 uses math,'' she said. Her teacher gave her a box of math cards to take home and practice with her family, she said.
LeDerrick Garrison, a fourth-grader from Taft Elementary School in Youngstown, said he practiced with his math coach for the past three months at school.
''I did my best and really concentrated. I didn't want to get any penalties,'' he said.
Colin Russell, a sixth-grader at Center Middle School in Boardman, said after the first two rounds, he thought he did well.
''It was enjoyable and memorable. I practiced every day at school that I could,'' he said, noting from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Monday and Thursday morning was a practice time at school.
Tony Gallo, a fourth-grader at Union School in Poland, said he concentrates on the numbers and studies the cards carefully. That technique helped as he was among the top 16 fourth graders.
Raegan Burkey, a fourth-grader at Stadium Drive in Boardman, said this is the first year she competed after signing up for the tryouts at her school.
''It was cool. I had a lot of fun,'' she said.
Noah Robinson, a sixth-grader at Glenwood Middle School in Boardman who competed in fourth and fifth grades, said the competition is fun.
''Not everyone can be an athlete, so you can compete in academic events or you can do both athletics and academics. It's fun to be here and meet new friends who also like Challenge 24,'' he said.
Terrell Benson, a seventh-grader from Chaney STEM School in Youngstown, said he thought he did well but said there was another player at his table who was very quick at getting the answers.
Parents and coaches at the event were amazed by the quickness of the participants.
Mindy Ziegler said her son, Joseph, a fourth-grader at Taft Elementary in Youngstown, said she helps her son each night practice with the cards as he also does with his math teacher.
''It's amazing how fast he does it. There are times he has the answer and I'm still trying to figure it out,'' she said.
Ursula Perdue, whose son, Jared, a seventh-grader at Chaney STEM School, said, ''I am amazed when I watch the students do this. My son was a little nervous but I told him he would do well.''
Sue Shafer, community events coordinator for the Tribune Chronicle, said a regional tournament for both Trumbull and Mahoning counties is being planned for late January. The top 16 in each grade level will advance to the regional with 64 students from both counties participating.