Can you beat a fifth grade Bal­ti­more math whiz?

Doubt­ful, but Poly Mathopoly game day is fun any­way

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS -

Teams of math-savvy fifth graders from across Bal­ti­more com­peted in a cafe­te­ri­a­sized game of arith­meti­cal prob­lem-solv­ing Satur­day morn­ing in the city’s ci­tadel of STEM learn­ing, the Bal­ti­more Polytech­nic In­sti­tute, a high school that many of the boys and girls might one day at­tend.

Spon­sored by the In­ge­nu­ity Project, the ac­claimed science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math pro­gram at Poly, the sec­ond an­nual Mathopoly was a brain chal­lenge for the fifth graders and a way to in­tro­duce their par­ents to op­por­tu­ni­ties that await the chil­dren in sixth grade.

Es­tab­lished at Poly in 1997, the In­ge­nu­ity Project has ex­panded to four mid­dle schools — Hamilton, Mount Royal, Roland Park and James McHenry — and many of the fifth graders on the Mathopoly teams have been en­cour­aged to ap­ply to them.

“I just learned about that today, and I’m def­i­nitely in­ter­ested,” said Jas­mine Swin­son, whose daugh­ter, Jaymyla, played on Satur­day’s win­ning team, the Tigers from Mary E. Rod­man Ele­men­tary School on the west side of the city. “She loves math, she’s an A stu­dent.”

The Tigers, coached by their teacher, Ruth Sava, scored the most over­all points in Mathopoly, a Mo­nop­oly-in­spired board game cre­ated by a mid­dle school teacher from Canada. In­stead of Board­walk and Park Place, con­tes­tants might land on En­gi­neer’s Park­way and Game De­signer Drive. For the

Bal­ti­more com­pe­ti­tion, Har­bor De­signs and Man­u­fac­tur­ing last year cus­tomized a sprawl­ing Mathopoly board cov­er­ing the cafe­te­ria floor, adding Bal­ti­more mid­dle school names where rail­road lines ap­peared on the orig­i­nal Mo­nop­oly board.

The stu­dents rolled col­or­ful, in­flated dice and solved prob­lems to move their Mathopoly pieces — their school team mascots — around the big board.

And they faced th­ese chal­leng­ing ques­tions (an­swers be­low):

A. “Sup­pose a stan­dard twelve-hour clock now shows a time of 10:45,” one prob­lem card asked. “What time will the clock show 100 hours from now?”

B. Another called for mul­ti­ple mul­ti­pli­ca­tion and divi­sion: “What is the value of the fol­low­ing in sim­plest terms? (20 x 24 x 28 x 32) ÷ (10 x 12 x 14 x 16).”

C. Another card de­manded an an­swer to this ques­tion: “For ev­ery two wid­gets I buy at the reg­u­lar price, I can buy a third wid­get for $4. I bought nine wid­gets for a to­tal of $90. Find in dol­lars the reg­u­lar price of a wid­get?”

D. One of the teams drew this card: “Dr. Bolton was born in an in­ter­est­ing year. The tens digit was twice the thou­sands digit, the ones digit was three times the tens digit, and the hun­dreds digit was equal to the sum of the other three dig­its. In what year was he born?”

The fifth graders hur­riedly worked out their prob­lems with pen­cils and pa­per on the cafe­te­ria floor as their par­ents watched from the spec­ta­tor gallery.

“It’s great for par­ents to see their kids com­pet­ing and fo­cused on math for two hours like this,” said Lisette Mor­ris, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the In­ge­nu­ity Project. “They see their chil­dren in a whole dif­fer­ent light.”

Mor­ris re­cruited Poly stu­dents from the In­ge­nu­ity Project to serve as judges for the Mathopoly game and as in­spi­ra­tion for the fifth graders. She in­tro­duced two of the Poly se­niors be­cause each had just re­ceived early ac­cep­tance to col­lege: Jarra Omar to Brown Univer­sity and Matt Ar­cillo to Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity.

“I knew about In­ge­nu­ity be­cause they had a [presentati­on] at Lib­erty Ele­men­tary,” said Rhonda Scott, whose 10-year-old son, Reon, at­tends that school. “I’m thrilled about it, and we’re go­ing to ap­ply.”

Dave McDon­ald, a 1980 grad­u­ate of Poly, came out to watch the Mathopoly game and root for his son Vaughn’s team from Mount

Royal Ele­men­tary. The team fin­ished sec­ond over­all.

McDon­ald has an older son in the com­puter science hon­ors pro­gram at Poly, another in an ad­vanced cur­ricu­lum at Mount Royal and a daugh­ter in sec­ond grade at the same school. “They all have math skills,” McDon­ald said. “You might say we have math in our blood.”

He in­tends to have Vaughn ap­ply for one of the four mid­dle schools where the In­ge­nu­ity cur­ricu­lum is of­fered.

Fin­ish­ing third in Satur­day’s com­pe­ti­tion were the Braini­acs from Fed­eral Hill Prepara­tory Academy. The other ele­men­tary schools that sent teams were Roland Park, Sin­clair Lane, Go­vans, Wil­liam Paca, Fur­man L. Tem­ple­ton Prepara­tory Academy, Matthew A. Hen­son and Gar­denville. In all, about 75 stu­dents par­tic­i­pated.

An­swers: A. 2:45 B. 16 (2x2x2x2) C. 13 D. 1926


From left, Si­enna Vick­erie, 11, and Donte Ed­munds, 10, mem­bers of the Fed­eral Hill Prepara­tory School Brain Break­ers team, move their game piece on a large Mathopoly game board.

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