NEW PORT RICHEY
The third annual Math Olympics at Chasco Elementary commenced Friday morning with a ceremony complete with welcoming remarks from principal Hilda Martin and a tissue paper torch run around the bus loop.
It ended with the doling out of gold medals sporting red, white and blue ribbons to about 670 students throughout the school, many donning hats decorated with Olympic rings.
This year's Olympics was a whirlwind event filled with activities held indoors and out that were designed by teachers to exercise the brain and in some cases, the body, too.
Throughout the day, students had the opportunity to rotate through a variety of events including Olympic Multiplication and Problem Solving using fractions, graphs and in some cases, a handheld calculator.
"Look at this," said 8-year-old Ferdous Ahmed as she showed a reporter how to multiply 99 times 6 on her red calculator to come up with the total of 594. "It's so easy. You don't have to add 99 six times!"
Other activities included filling the pages in a Math Olympic Writing Journal and lining up at a long blue starting line for the standing long jump or high jump. A race to the finish meant measuring the distance covered in both inches and centimeters using old wooden yardsticks that with the advent of modern technology, rarely see the light of day.
"This is so awesome," said third-grade teacher, Jarret Seese, who oversaw the outdoor Squirt Event that required students to measure how far they could spray a squirt bottle filled with water before recording the results in a ledger. The numbers will later be compared. "It encourages them to use some problem solving skills and it gets them excited about math."
The idea, said math resource reacher Kasey Prichard, is to give students a real-world perspective of a subject that she herself once struggled with, while showing students that math can be a real blast.
Of course, there are those who will tell you math already is fun. Like torch runner Quinton Simpson, 9, who says, "It's easy for me." Or Shejla Hadzialic, 9, who claims math as her best subject.
"I always get an 'A,' " said Shejla as she measured the results of a buddy's high jump using a sewing tape measure.
But it doesn't work that way for everyone, said Prichard, noting that hands-on activities sometime stick when traditional teaching methods don't.
"The real importance for the Math Olympic Day is having all the kids get that love for math," she said. "Doing these activities rather that using textbooks or having them work in math centers is a fun way for the kids to get involved. They're enjoying the day but they're learning at the same time."