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East County Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019 5 months ago

Math is the star of brain games in Lakewood Ranch

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LWR Savvy hosts Math24 tournament to promote academic competition.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Robert E. Willis Elementary School fifth-grader Jaxon Lemus huddled around a green picnic table with his friends at a park in Country Club East.

They were playing Game 24, and putting their minds to work.

Lemus faced a problem in a math game that had him and his friends stumped.

Two, seven, four and eight.

How could they combine those numbers, using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, to come up with 24?

After a few minutes, they decided to skip it for an easier problem, but they did not lose their enthusiasm.

In moments, Lemus had solved the next problem, and on they went.

“I like math,” he said. “It’s my favorite subject.”

Lemus and his friends will participate in the inaugural Math24 Tournament — using the Game 24 design — from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., March 9 at B.D. Gullett Elementary School. Children from third through sixth grades will be presented with Game 24 cards containing four numbers. They have to use each number — one time each — to find an answer of 24. They are racing against their fellow students to see who can solve each problem the fastest.

Up to 100 children per grade level will compete for a chance at becoming the “grand champion.” No preregistration is required, but contestants must bring a copy of their progress report, report card or birth certificate to confirm their age and grade.

LWR Savvy, a Lakewood Ranch-based nonprofit providing children with educational opportunities, is organizing the first-time event. Its founder, Tara Bergstrom-Merino, of Greenbrook, said the tournament is a way to get students excited about academics.

“This is just a fun way to engage the kids in math,” Bergstrom-Merino said. “It also works on their out-of-the-box thinking.”

Bergstrom-Merino said math is taught differently than two decades ago, when children memorized multiplication tables. Now, teachers focus on the concepts behind the math so they can do complex math without writing it down.

Game 24 challenges those playing to think quickly.

“This is really pushing them to get faster,” Bergstrom-Merino said. “A lot of times kids are not as excited about math. They don’t see the purpose. I want to give the kids an opportunity that is academically challenging and fun.”

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