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Math competition fast breaks into learning

By Theresa Harrington
Thursday, April 1st, 2010 at 6:55 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Pleasant Hill, Theresa Harrington.

By Theresa Harrington
 
I visited teacher Sol Henik’s classroom at Prospect High School in Pleasant Hill today and watched the exciting Final Four round of his students’ “Math Madness” competition.

He models it after the NCAA basketball “March Madness” tournament, with students facing off against each other doing math problems. “Sweet 16″ turned to eight on Monday and Tuesday. The “Great 8″ was held Wednesday and the winners of today’s Final Four will compete for the championship on Friday.

This morning, semi-finalists Alexis Bunyard and Jake Jaramillo answered one set of questions, while Russell McKeown and Robert Banchero answered a second set of questions.

The person who answers the most questions correctly within 15 minutes wins. If there’s a tie, the person who finishes first wins.

Jake and Robert won today. Watch for the story in the Contra Costa Times this weekend.

Here’s a sampling of problems both teams were given. Each set of questions is similar, but most use different numbers.

If you’d like to have your own Math Madness competition, cut and paste each set of questions onto a separate page and print them out. Get a friend, set a timer for 8 minutes, then start doing the problems. (The actual competition included twice as many questions in 15 minutes.)

You’ll find the answers at the bottom of this post. Good luck!

Sampling of questions given to Jake and Alexis:

1. -y = -2x + 1: What is the y intercept and the slope?

2. Garcia borrowed $8,000 from his cousin Susan at the rate of 4.5 percent a year. He repaid the amount after three years. How much did he repay?

3. Jana bought a car for $6,300 and later sold it for a 15 percent profit. How much did Jana sell her car for?

4. What is the probability that you’ll roll a seven with a pair of dice? Reduce, if possible.

5. 1/4, 2/5, 3/10, 3/8. List from greatest to least.

6. A pair of Jordan’s shoes regularly selling for $145 is marked 20 percent off. What is the sale price?

7. Test 1: 91 percent, Test 2: 84 percent, Test 3: 92 percent. What is the lowest score you can get on the fourth test and still get an A (90 percent) in the class?

Sampling of questions given to Robert and Russell:

1. -9x + 3y = -18: What is the y intercept and the slope?

2. Garcia borrowed $4,000 from his cousin Susan at the rate of 8 percent a year. He repaid the amount after two years. How much did he repay?

3. Jana bought a car for $4,200 and later sold it for a 30 percent profit. How much did Jana sell her car for?

4. If you roll a number cube labeled 1-6 once, how likely is it that you would randomly roll a number more than 4?

5. A pair of Jordan’s shoes regularly selling for $135 is marked 20 percent off. What is the sale price?

6. Solve: 4y – 3 = 3y + 4

7. Test 1: 91 percent, Test 2: 84 percent, Test 3: 92 percent. What is the lowest score you can get on the fourth test and still get an A (90 percent) in the class?

To help relate his Math Madness lessons to basketball, Henik also had students shoot hoops and track how many baskets they made, compared to attempts.

They then converted these numbers into percentages, decimals and fractions. You could also do this with a friend. The one with the highest percentage of shots made wins.

Final Four Answers:

Jake and Alexis test: (1) y intercept is -1 and the slope is 2 (2) $9,080 (3) $7,245 (4) 1/6 (5) 2/5, 3/8, 3/10, 1/4 (6) $116 (7) 93 percent

Robert and Russell test: (1) the y intercept is -6 and the slope is 3 (2) $4,640 (3) $5,460 (4) 1/3 (5) $108 (6) y = 7 (7) 93 percent

How did you do?

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