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Students showcase math skills

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:50 p.m.
Michael Klatt, 9, and Madeline Grote, 9, represent Southmoreland as they compete in the game of Set Jan. 11 in Southmoreland Elementary School's first Math Thinking Tournament. Kelly Vernon | Independent-Observer
Southmoreland Elementary School students Nick Bodenheimer, 10, and Nick Formato, 10, show off their math skills in a game of Equate Jan. 11. Kelly Vernon | Independent-Observer
Southmoreland's Sarah DuBrul, 11, completes worksheets in the Numbers game Jan. 11. Kelly Vernon | Independent-Observer
Mt. Pleasant Journal
Kaelea Mayes, 8, represents Donegal Elementary School as she plays the Numbers game Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 at the Math Thinking Tournament at Southmoreland Elementary School. Kelly Vernon | Mt. Pleasant Journal
Mt. Pleasant Journal
Gavin Stamps, 10 represents Norvelt Elementary School in a game of 24 Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 at Southmoreland Elementary School's Math Thinking Tournament for gifted students. Kelly Vernon | Mt. Pleasant Journal

Southmoreland Elementary School hosted its first Math Thinking Tournament Jan. 11 for fourth- and fifth-grade students in the gifted program.

It's something the school plans to continue annually said Lisa Shinsky, the district's K-8 gifted coordinator.

“The middle school has one every year. I wanted to host it at the elementary level to prepare our students for competition when they advance to the middle school,” stated Shinsky.

Twenty-six teams consisting of four students, from Southmoreland, Mt. Pleasant, Greensburg Salem, Kiski Area and Penn Trafford competed in the event. Students were accompanied to the tournament by their gifted class teachers. Teachers gathered in a separate room and were not permitted to assist the students during the competition.

The tournament consisted of four stations, where groups of students from each school competed in games such as Set, 24, Equate and Numbers Junction.

The object of Set was to create a set of three cards that feature either the same on each card or is different on each card. For instance, students were expected to make a set of three cards from 12 cards laid out on the table. Each card had a variation of the following features: color, symbol, number or shading.

Equate was played much like Scrabble using number equations instead of words. Students were given a card with four numbers that they were required to add, subtract, divide and/or multiply all of the numbers on their card to equal 24 in the game 24.

Southmoreland Elementary School students competing included Nick Bodenheimer, Joselyn Busato, Sarah DuBrul, Nick Formato, Abby Fullem, Madeline Grote, Ella Huffman, Michael Klatt, Jacob Overly, Jacob Poole and Madison Thomas.

Representatives from each team competed at a station for 25 minutes before rotating to the next game station. Games were separate and set up in two conference rooms and the library at the school.

Several students in the Southmoreland Middle School gifted program monitored each station to make sure competitors played the games correctly and fair. Their experience competing at the middle-school level equipped them with the skills needed to guide the young participants. Middle-school judges included Caroline Bailey, Alex Busato, Morgan Conty, Charles Echard, Brendon Hixson, Cameron Johnson, Adeline Nicholson and Tessa Wilkins.

“It's a fun way to learn and challenge for the kids,” Bailey said.

Students from Donegal, Norvelt and Ramsay Elementary Schools represented the Mt. Pleasant Area School District at the tournament. The prepared for the competition in gifted class during school hours, as well as practiced using worksheets at home.

“The kids really looked forward to coming to the event. The ones that excel in math were excited to showcase their abilities,” said Rachel Long, a teacher in the Mt. Pleasant Area School District.

“I will absolutely bring students every year, especially since it is so close,” she added.

Mt. Pleasant sent representatives from Donegal — Hannah Brown, Alexandra Hamm and Kaelea Hayes; Norvelt — Gavin Stamps, and Ramsay — Cameron Baird, Ashton Clark, Grace Nanney, Tyler Schomer, Hannah Tate, Hunter Tate and Elijah Wilson.

“My favorite game was Set, because it was a lot of fun and not real complicated,” Wilson said.

All of the students participating in the tournament received a certificate. Students on the first- through fifth-place winning teams received a ribbon. Greensburg Salem team A took first place; Greensburg Salem team B, second place; Kiski Area team A, third place; Greensburg Salem team C, fourth place, and Mt. Pleasant team C, fifth place.

Megan Shissler of Greensburg Salem captured the title of Math Master by compiling the highest overall score.

Kelly Vernon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-547-5722 or