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Elementary school Olympians turn numbers to gold

Elementary school Olympians turn numbers to gold

Math was everywhere during Hamilton Elementary School’s first-ever Winter Olympics.
Elementary school Olympians turn numbers to gold
Students at Hamilton Elementary School participate in the Math Olympics "javelin throw" Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. After they threw their straws, students had to estimate how many were in each box. The class that got the most straws in the box won, but the...

Math was everywhere during Hamilton Elementary School’s first-ever Winter Olympics.

Students raced to move water from one cup to another with only a spoon, measuring the water to see who had won.

They built towers out of cups and measured the height to see whose was tallest.

There was even speed math as they tossed candy at a target and added up the points from each toss. Older students had to multiply each number.

It was so much fun students didn’t even realize they were learning how important math can be in everyday life.

They also didn’t know they would see some of these tasks again. On the state science exam, they will measure liquids. Their math exams will include the vocabulary they had to use Friday, as well as the skills they practiced again and again.

But to the students, it was just fun.

“It was a contest,” said Isabelle Zeglan, 6, a first-grader. “We don’t have to stay in school and work.

Her favorite part was the speed addition game, she added.

Her teacher, Christina Alderdice, plans to run that game again in class to encourage students to add double-digit numbers.

“Addition and subtraction with double-digits can be challenging,” she said. “But the kids really enjoyed it.”

Third-grade teacher Michelle Marshall used the Olympics to focus her students on math all year.

“I thought it was a great way to get kids excited about learning their math facts,” she said.

In third grade, they memorize multiplication tables — a task that isn’t generally viewed as interesting.

“This kept them motivated,” she said.

They got points toward the Olympics if they achieved certain levels of math mastery before the event.

On Friday, they also got to meet six members of the Schenectady High School football team who volunteered to help run the Olympics. The young athletes cheered on every student, encouraging them and giving high-fives. The students were thrilled.

“We could not have done this without them,” said organizer Jean McCrum. “They are so fantastic. We’re really trying to promote the future, and three of them were Hamilton kids.”

Teachers were thrilled, too. When Cody Peek, 16, walked into the school, his kindergarten teacher rushed into an office and came out with a certificate she had filled out for him 12 years ago. It listed his favorite book (“Machines At Work”) and that he had learned to count by fives.

She gave him a hug and insisted he keep the certificate as a memory of kindergarten.

Peek doesn’t remember the machines book, but he was glad to be back at Hamilton.

“It’s been amazing, coming back to my old elementary school,” he said. “I remember having so much fun growing up in this school. All my teachers were amazing.”

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