Third-Grader First in Math

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Ninety-five percent of adults have trouble making it past level five of the Internet-based competition, First in Math's 24 Game. Seth Rivas, a third-grader at Fountain Hill Elementary School in Pennsylvania, made it all the way to level eight to take home a gold medal and certificate of achievement recognizing the 8-year-old as the nation's top ranked third-grader. Seth's team of 29 students from teacher Shawn Collier's class, was also recognized as the nation's top-ranked team.

First in Math is a math game played on a Web site. The game includes problems ranging from simple addition to algebra, a level of math most third-graders aren't even aware of yet. The Morning Call reports that Seth made it to the eighth and highest level but admitted he struggled with the algebra.

“I just kept playing,” Seth told the Morning Call. “It's fun.”

Robert Sun, creator of the 24 Game, told the Morning call that more than 250,000 students from 25 states competed in the program. Although it is the first year all of the Bethlehem Area School District's elementary and middle schools competed in First in Math, Fountain Hill was part of last year's pilot program.

“It's the most exciting application of instructive technology I've seen,” Fountain Hill principal Joseph Rahs told the Morning Call. “We've not yet tapped its potential. The promise it has for children is tremendous.”

Bethlehem Superintendent Joseph Lewis agrees, telling the Morning Call “They've found the link between gamesmanship and mathematics, and it's positively addicting. If this is the way kids get engaged in learning, then let's do it.”

Another Fountain Hill student, fifth-grader Daniel Candelario, is among 11 nationally ranked students who individually earned more than 10,000 points playing the game.

“This program has the power to engage children,” Sun tells the Morning Call, “Kids like Daniel spend a 100-plus hours just on this game while the average student spends 100 hours on math in a full year. When a student spends that kind of time, it has an impact on learning.”

He goes on to say “When you build a solid foundation in math, you can cross boundaries. You have tasted the power of math.”

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