‘Mathletes’ fare well in second pentathlon

Only a handful of days remain until the students and staff of Wakarusa Elementary usher in a well-deserved respite and dive headlong into summer vacation.
But before they look ahead to the conclusion of the 2010-11 school year, several students in grades four and five took time out of their weekend to arrive on campus and participate in a friendly competition to showcase their math skills. On the morning of Saturday, May 14, 41 students challenged their peers in the school’s second annual math pentathlon.
The event was coordinated by fourth-grade teacher Justine Crilow and fifth-grade teacher Ann Sauceda. They worked with their math students well in advance of the pentathlon, teaching them the rules and intricacies of specific games that sharpen their abilities to think through and solve math equations, using abilities they’ve been taught throughout the year.
All of the mathletes took turns rotating among various tables, partnering with a teammate, for approximately 45 minutes allotted in three separate rounds. The 19 fourth-graders played “Contig 60,” “Queens & Guards,” and “Juggle,” while the 22 fifth-graders tackled “Stars & Bars,” “Fab-a-Diffy,” and “Contig 60.” The latter of the fifth-grade games was selected by the students as a favorite from last year’s competition.
The winners from each round earned three points, a tie was worth two points, and a loss netted one point. In all, the greatest potential was to score nine points total.  Those who accomplished a perfect score received Hall of Fame Gold Medal status, while those garnering eight points were awarded gold medal status.
A seven-point total score was worthy of a silver medal, while six points gave the gamer a bronze medal. Other competitors achieved honorable mention accolades. All of the contenders were treated to pizza, chips, and beverages after the sessions ended in the early afternoon.
Sauceda and Crilow have enjoyed organizing the math pentathlon, and have been encouraged by the eager and willing students who choose to become involved. “Good sportsmanship is number one, along with problem-solving strategies and techniques,” Sauceda noted.  “Higher level thinking skills is what we are focusing on.”
And with a smile, she added that a certain aspect of the day is greatly appreciated by everyone, “They love the free pizza.”