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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Math Meet Adds Up To Case Of Nerves

Janice Podsada Staff writer

Fourth-grader Amy Erdman wasn’t taking any chances that her father, Roger Erdman, a nervous fan, would interfere with her calculations. So Amy asked him to stand out in the hall while she squared off against competitors with a pencil and a scratch pad.

Dad honored his daughter’s request even though official rules of the “Math Is Cool” competition allowed him to be in the classroom.

The fourth-graders, a calculating bunch, were prime players in the second annual math competition last Friday evening at Lewis and Clark High School. The fourth-grade competition marked the third and last event for elementary students. Fifth- and sixth-graders competed for honors last month.

A group of parents, some more nervous than their children, milled through the halls, chewing gum and fidgeting. Then they gathered inside the classroom or at the doorway to support their children.

The Lewis and Clark Math Team, under the guidance of math teacher Gregg Sampson, planned and conducted the event, which began with individual math testing and concluded with timed tests and team competition.

Students from throughout Spokane County and as far as Kettle Falls participated. Many competitors said they trained for weeks after school and during lunch hours.

“They’re focused,” said Mark Slater, fourth-grade teacher and math competition coach at Linwood Elementary. “Before they got here they were just kids. Now that they’re here, they are math cool kids.”

Long division, summation, story problems and probability filled the three-hour event, sponsored by Hewlett-Packard.

“Math Is Cool” is the brainchild of another math team - Walter and Betty Davis. The Davises first met at a Lewis and Clark Math Club meeting in 1936.

Betty went on to major in math at Washington State University, Walter in engineering at California Technical Institute. The Davis’ four children attended LC, and two of their 10 grandchildren are on the LC math team.

Fifty LC students proctored the event.

“I’ve had students say, ‘We’re fourth-graders; we shouldn’t know this, but we do,”’ said Kathy Miller, fourth-grade teacher at Linwood Elementary.

As the clock wound down in the team event, one nervous father stroked his beard, pondering the future of televised big-time math competition.

“It isn’t exactly your spectator sport,” he told Eric Orme, whose son, Forrest, huddled with three teammates from Hutton Elementary School.

After the buzzer completed the team competition, students emerged from the classrooms, hungry, thirsty and optimistic.

“I think I did OK,” said Brian Porter, 10, a student at Wilson Elementary School, “except for the question about leap year.” (See quiz at right.)

“It’s really wonderful to have something more than sports activities,” said Brian’s mother, Gerda Porter. “It’s nice to have kids recognized for doing something intellectual.”

Eighth-grade competition will be held at LC on March 7. Seventh-graders compete April 25, and high-school students will compete in May, Sampson said.

Hutton Elementary’s fourth-grade math team took top honors in the “Math Is Cool” Championship.

Members of the first-place team were Ian Zieg, Colin Holbrook, Wyeth Larson and Forrest Orme.

Hutton’s coach, Deborah Alexander, teaches sixth-grade, “but she has become our math expert and coaches all the teams,” said Deborah Johnson, Hutton principal. “Win or lose, they learn a lot,” Johnson said. “The neat thing about ‘Math Is Cool’ is they have individual and team competition.”

Moran Prairie’s fourth-grade team took third place among 16 entries in the team event.

In individual competition, Leslie Griffith of Moran Prairie won second place. Colin Holbrook of Hutton was fourth. Wyeth Larson, also of Hutton, placed sixth, and Hannah Lindberg of Jefferson Elementary took seventh place.

There were fifteen individual contestants in the “large school category,” Sampson said.

Franklin principal lends face

Michael Cosgrove, principal of Franklin Elementary School, didn’t win the cake at the school’s Valentine Carnival last Friday, but he caught the pie.

Cosgrove and school custodian, John Colville volunteered their faces for the pie-throwing contest.

Sixth-graders lobbed the most pies at their principal, but “most of them missed,” Cosgrove said.

The evening carnival, which featured a cake-walk, spin-art and the pie-throwing booth, raised more than $100 for the sixth-grade class. The money will be used to finance the class’s annual spring trip.

The carnival is a prelude to Valentine’s Day. Which leads to the question: Do kids still exchange valentines?

Cosgrove said yes, they do.

“It’s really quite important. Kids love to get them and love to give them,” he said of the century-old practice, first made popular by the English, whose folklore says birds choose their mates on Valentine’s Day.

Valentines will be exchanged Friday, but to prevent any broken hearts, Cosgrove said students who wish to distribute valentines are asked to bring one for everybody in class.

, DataTimes MEMO: Education Notebook is a regular feature of the South Side Voice. Please let us know about interesting programs and activities, and the achievements of students, teachers, administrators, staff and volunteers at schools on Spokane’s South Side and in Cheney, Medical Lake and the Liberty School District. Contact Janice Podsada, South Side Voice, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210 E-mail: janicep@spokesman.com Or call: 459-5439 Fax: 459-5482

This sidebar appeared with the story: Test yourself Can you beat a fourth-grader at math? Try these questions from Friday’s “Math Is Cool” competition. Remember, no calculators allowed. 1. If Biff’s sock drawer contains 8 red socks, 4 purple socks, 9 gray socks and 3 green socks, how many socks must be drawn to be sure of getting a matching pair? 2. Evaluate 1995 + 1996 + 1997. 3. With the toss of a six-sided die, what is the probability of rolling a one or two? 4. From a standard deck of cards, what is the probability of drawing a queen in a single draw? 5. During a leap year, in what month does the 170th day occur? 6. The sum of Biff and Eho’s ages is 23, what will the sum of their ages be in 7 years? The answers: 1) Five. 2) 5,988. 3) 2/6 or 1/3. 4) 4/52 or 1/13. 5) June. 6) 37. Janice Podsada

Education Notebook is a regular feature of the South Side Voice. Please let us know about interesting programs and activities, and the achievements of students, teachers, administrators, staff and volunteers at schools on Spokane’s South Side and in Cheney, Medical Lake and the Liberty School District. Contact Janice Podsada, South Side Voice, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210 E-mail: janicep@spokesman.com Or call: 459-5439 Fax: 459-5482

This sidebar appeared with the story: Test yourself Can you beat a fourth-grader at math? Try these questions from Friday’s “Math Is Cool” competition. Remember, no calculators allowed. 1. If Biff’s sock drawer contains 8 red socks, 4 purple socks, 9 gray socks and 3 green socks, how many socks must be drawn to be sure of getting a matching pair? 2. Evaluate 1995 + 1996 + 1997. 3. With the toss of a six-sided die, what is the probability of rolling a one or two? 4. From a standard deck of cards, what is the probability of drawing a queen in a single draw? 5. During a leap year, in what month does the 170th day occur? 6. The sum of Biff and Eho’s ages is 23, what will the sum of their ages be in 7 years? The answers: 1) Five. 2) 5,988. 3) 2/6 or 1/3. 4) 4/52 or 1/13. 5) June. 6) 37. Janice Podsada

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