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A little competition makes math fun
Math Mania tests students
Samantha Rooker, left, and Katherine Wainwright work on a math problem Saturday during the Math Mania event at Mount Vernon Exploratory School in North Hall. - photo by Tom Reed

If children like sports, they can usually join a team. However, if children like math, they don’t have an outlet for competition.

On Saturday morning, though, teachers, parents and students from around North Georgia set out to change that.
Mount Vernon Exploratory School, along with Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy and Chattahoochee Christian School, held the first Math Mania competition for first- through fifth-graders.

“The joy of math is great. It’s something that the kids can get into,” Mount Vernon fifth-grade teacher Funmi Oke said. Oke said the Math Mania event could help build the students’ confidence in the subject.

“It’s such a great thing for the kids to be confident with numbers,” she said. “If we can get rid of that fear of math so that they fall in love with numbers, it’s not as scary for them when they get up to middle school and high school. It’s about numbers, and kids get numbers. It’s just awesome to see these kids wanting to be here, on a Saturday morning, and just being able to just have fun with something that people, typically don’t see as fun.”
Cody Chembars, special education teacher at Mount Vernon, also said Math Mania is important to emphasize math in the community.

“There’s a desperate need,” he said. “I mean, we see that the United States is struggling in that department ... We want math to be exciting, and that’s one of the reasons we brought Math Mania to Mount Vernon is to offer that to the students, and to make sure that they are getting the exposure.

“It’s very similiar to sports. If you’re good at football, then you have football offered, but if you’re good at math, where’s that competition and where’s that offered?...I think it means a lot to the students because it’s building a foundation. It’s building a reason to study math. It’s building a broader view of math, and how we can apply it in the real world. It’s looking farther in the future.”

The students who participated had to answer questions that were presented to them on a sheet of paper and written with the help of Brenau University and the University of North Georgia.

Questions started at the student’s grade level and increased as the competition progressed.

“I really enjoyed (Math Mania),” said fourth-grade student Roman Yaskulka. “I think the fourth-grade problems were on the right level. The fifth-grade questions were really hard.”

Leigh Ann Yaskulka said the event helped her sons become enthusiastic about learning.

“They were very excited to be here,” she said. “There’s so much competition with athletics, that I think it’s good for the kids who don’t do that, to have their own way to compete; see how they measure up against others.”

“As a teacher, I think it’s great for our kids to get an opportunity to have fun with math, and to learn that math is something more than what they do in the classroom,” said Erin Sniatecki, Chattahoochee Christian School fifth-grade teacher. “Events like this, they can see others kids like them doing math and having fun with it. The competition adds that special part like ‘this is a sport’. It’s something they can grab a hold on, and they are usually internally motivated by competition. I’m thankful that the teachers at Mount Vernon saw a need and said ‘if it’s not going to be done, then we’re going to do it.’”