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Linda Mah
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Math-A-Lon Makes Math Fun

Competition Encourages Students to Develop Math Skills

Lincoln International Studies School took home the trophy for a second year in a row at the second annual Math-A-Lon Competition held in March.

Second place was a tie between Washington Writers’ Academy and Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet Center for the Arts. Third place went to Prairie Ridge Elementary.

The third- through fifth-grade student participants came from Washington, Woods Lake, Lincoln, Milwood Elementary, Arcadia Elementary, The Woodward School for Technology & Research, El Sol Elementary, Edison Environmental Science Academy, Spring Valley Center for Exploration, Northglade Montessori Magnet School, and Prairie Ridge, which hosted the competition.

Parents and family members attended the event to cheer on their math-letes during the event.
The Math-A-Lon is a competition among Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo after-school programs, in which students participate in five math events and compete in good-natured number-oriented contests. Kalamazoo Public Schools math coordinator Matthew Johnson said it was designed to motivate students to improve their math skills.

“My hope is that students who participate increase their math skills, but more importantly find enjoyment and confidence in their ability to do math,” Johnson said. “This year we had to find a bigger venue because word had spread that this was a fun competition and a great way to motivate students in the after-school program.”

Bonnie Terrentine, the afterschool site coordinator for CIS at Lincoln, said her program works extensively with the manipulatives and practice problems that Johnson provides each team. The team is coached by Terrentine, youth development worker Patricia Atkins and Lincoln teacher Kendra Kasinger, who works with CIS as an instructional specialist in the after school program.
The students take the competition seriously and sometimes give up their lunch recess to practice.

“I think they like it because of the challenge. They work on this for six or seven weeks and I think they’re really able to learn the concepts,” Terrentine said. “I know they like winning.”

The Math-A-Lon events students competed in were:

• Team Number Cruncher: Students work as a team to solve a series of calculations that will help them answer questions related to a theme. Teams can use different strategies to solve the problem such as dividing the questions or having two groups work simultaneously on the problem so one can act as a fact checker. This is a timed event.

• Four Operations Relay: Teammates take turns using multiplication, division, addition, subtraction and reason. The players answer questions one at a time, with the next player moving forward only when the person in front of them completes their problem. More points are awarded for being correct, rather than for being fast.

• Hundred Chart Hunt: Three team members must locate a number on a 100s chart using a set of clue cards. They must solve six mathematical clues to reach the correct answer.

• Build It: Three team members must build a structure out of blocks based on a set of instructions involving logic and mathematics. Students have 12 minutes to construct their structure, and points are deducted if a team member touches the structure after the time limit.

• Area and Perimeter Calculations: Three team members are given a diagram that contains images composed of many two-dimensional shapes. Students use their knowledge of calculating surface area and perimeter to solve questions relating to the shapes.

Photos courtesy of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo. 
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