WARREN - Twenty-four was the magic number as students crunched numbers for prizes.
The regional Challenge 24 tournament kicked off Tuesday night without a hitch after being postponed in January.
Halfway through the four-round competition, eighth-grader Sidney Drake of Newton Falls had already amassed 216 points.
"She's wiping up," said fourth-grade Dobbins Elementary School teacher Elaine Morlan, the proctor for the table. "I think that's higher than anybody I've ever had. I don't think I've ever seen anybody that fast," she said.
It was Drake's last time competing, since the competition, which starts at fourth grade, doesn't extend beyond eighth grade.
"She's like a human computer," said Drake's former teacher, Gina Woodley, who was rooting for her to win.
Tribune Chronicle / Bonnie L. Hazen
Eighth-grader Sidney Drake of Newton Falls competes Tuesday during the Challenge 24 regional tournament. Drake came in second in the seventh- and eighth-grade category.
Drake came in second for the seventh- and eighth-grade category, only four points behind Noah Landry of Poland Middle School.
Winners included eight students from Trumbull and eight from Mahoning County.
For the Challenge 24 game, students are given math puzzles with several numbers to add, subtract, multiply or divide to arrive at the solution of 24, with each number only used once. The first student to come up with an answer taps the table mat, then recites the steps they took to arrive at the number 24.
If a student recites the wrong answer, they are issued a penalty flag. Once a student amasses three penalties, they have to stop for the round but are able to retain their current points. Some "trick" puzzles that can't be solved also are included in the tournament.
Tuesday night's regional competition included winners from earlier competitions in Trumbull and Mahoning counties, with the top 64 students from each county competing for the win.
Prizes were awarded for first through fourth place, and Time Warner Cable was instrumental in funding the competition.
"Without them, the regional tournament would not have happened," said Tribune Chronicle events coordinator Sue Shafer. "They have really stepped up to the plate," she said.
Other sponsors included OhWOW! the Roger and Gloria Jones Children's Center for Technology, TCESC, the Tribune Chronicle, the Town Criers and Parent Magazine.
Time Warner Cable purchased the T-shirts, trophies and prizes as well as new game mats for each table. The company also gave each participating student a lunch bag.
"Time Warner is proud to be a sponsor of Challenge 24, and we are very involved in Collect a Million Minds (CAMM) after-school program," said Time Warner Cable dispatch Nikki Riehl. "CAMM has to do with STEM, and this just falls right into that category. We are honored to be a part of this; we really enjoy it. These kids are amazing," she said.
OhWOW! donated four-pack family admissions to the museum for first-place winners, and other prizes included HD Kindle Fires for first place, iPod Shuffles for second, wide-angle optimal zoom digital cameras for third and 4-gigabyte MP3 players for fourth.
"With the increased emphasis on STEM, the Challenge 24 tournaments are even more important," Shafer said.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
"This game can be played by any student. Many of the math and science competitions tend to be targeted to the top students in the class; however, this game can be played by any student. Over the years, I've seen students who have average grades excel in these tournaments.
"In the early years of the tournament, we even had one student who had very poor reading skills win the tournament," Shafer said.
Alex Stoneman, a sixth grader from St. Charles, said he enjoys playing the game because it makes you think, and it is both fun and challenging to play with friends.
"As you advance, the cards gradually get harder. Once you hit seventh and eighth grade, they pull out the real hard cards, so then it gets really tough," he said.
It was Stoneman's second time competing in the regionals, and he said he was pretty confident because he had been practicing.
Seventh-grader Alyssa Helmick, 12, from Labrae Middle School, said it was her fourth time at the regionals, but didn't think she would pull off a win.
"I'm pretty good but one of my teammates is very good, and Sidney Drake is a very good competitor," she said.
Jenna Jacobson, 11, a sixth-grader from McKinley Elementary, was happy with the 81 points she had amassed in round 1 and 2.
"I'll probably get in the top 16," she said with a smile.