(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, October 19, 2013 7:45 PM
For kids in elementary school, Saturday mornings are usually spent watching cartoons. Most try to get as far away from schoolwork as possible.
At Mathnasium, things are a little different.
As it crept closer to 8:30 a.m., the children at Mathnasium’s TriMathlon contest looked how any elementary-school-age kid looks early on a Saturday morning — tired. While waiting for the competition, they talked quietly and played board games.
Their energy didn’t pick up until they were sitting at a table in front of a paper covered in math problems. The Mathnasium TriMathlon kids are a little different, and that’s OK.
Martha Dalton, owner and center director of Mathnasium, is the mastermind behind the TriMathlon. She said the event is creative, engaging and informative for the participants.
“One of the benefits is that it’s a fun experience with math. Most students don’t like it, and others are just really intimidated by it,” Dalton said. “This is a good format to help teach them math can be fun.”
Saturday’s event was Mathnasium’s third TriMathlon. Participation is open to all students in grades 2-5 from public, private or home schools. The participants don’t have to be enrolled in any Mathnasium classes to participate, and prep materials are available on the Mathnasium website.
Dalton said that even though it’s a contest and the results matter, each participant is given a prize at the end.
“When we have our awards ceremony and everyone gets a prize, all of the kids seem to have a positive experience,” Dalton said.
The contest consisted of three events: Magic Squares, where students are awarded points for developing their own math problems; the Counting game, which tests students’ ability to count from any number, to any number, by any number; and Mental Math Workout, which asks students to solve problems without a pencil and paper to show off their “number sense.”
Money will be donated to local schools for every correct answer on the TriMathlon test from a participant attending that school. The school can receive the donation through either the website www.DonorsChoice.org, which allows schools to select whatever they need, with the donations adding up toward those items, or through direct donations.
The contestants left their parents in the adjacent building as they competed in the TriMathlon. Larry Thomas and wife Latilda were bringing their family back for a second time. “The first year was cool. The kids loved it,” Larry said. “They were a little nervous the first time,” Latilda added. “This year, they were excited.”
Devonte, Larry and Latilda’s son, came close to placing last year. This year, the fifth-grader came back to do even better. He wasn’t alone either. His parents brought his siblings along with a niece and her friend.
“These kids are just so competitive,” Larry said. “That’s the main thing. They want to win.”
Latilda said education is important in her household. She said the kids are always involved in something. Saturday, the family had to choose between a 4-H event and the Mathnasium. The kids chose math.
“We want the kids to be competitive; we want them to be leaders,” Latilda said. “Anything that’s positive with kids is what we’re all about.”
The winners from each grade level are invited to the national TriMathlon, where the national champions will be determined based on their local test scores. The prizes awarded to local schools on behalf of the first-, second- and third-place finishers at each grade level range from $1,000 to $500 and down to $250.
After the contest, the second-grade first-place finisher was Kharie Hidalgo from Western Heights Elementary School. In the third-grade competition, Dawayne Gray and Kashmire Anderson from Brentwood Elementary School tied for third place. Jayden Walker from Brentwood placed second, and Anna Kate Fredericks from Immaculate Conception Cathedral School placed first. In the fourth-grade competition, Ashunti Gray from Brentwood placed second, and Vinton Giang from A.A. Nelson Elementary School placed first. In the fifth-grade competition, Caroline Fredericks from ICCS and Kyla Hildalgo from Western Heights Elementary School tied for third. Shanese Gray from Brentwood placed second, and Devonte Gray finished in first place.