On your mark … get set … GO! And, they’re off: “7 times 8, plus 4, times 5, divided by 25, plus 8, times 20, and then take the square root of that … no paper, pencil, or calculators allowed, please.” Willie Walker’s version of mental math gives problems repeatedly as they are called out without concern for order of operation. (Check the end of the article for the answer. Did you get the right answer? How long did it take you? Try calculating this complex math problem in your head in a matter of a few seconds to respond before anyone else does.)
The first Math Derby in April 2018 began with Willie Walker, former principal of Ephesus Junior Academy in West Palm Beach, Fla., and founder and CEO of Project Motivational Math, a corporation that has been inspiring and motivating students all over the world to develop and exercise their math skills in a math gymnastics for decades. Walker, also known as “Mr. Math,” engaged the first set of participants by warming up for the math competition.
The Southeastern Conference and Project Motivational Math teamed up to present a math competition like none other. When Walker served as a principal in Southeastern, he proposed a partnership to hold the annual Conference-wide Math Derby, and Barbara Davis, Ed.D., Southeastern superintendent of education, enthusiastically agreed.
Eight schools participated in the second Math Derby, April 28, 2019, including one school from the Florida Conference, and many marveled at how motivated the students were to participate. Throughout the day there was an air of excitement as student after student flexed their mathematical muscles and spoke a language that many of the spectators could only dream of learning. The teachers who prepared the students for the Math Derby provided an invaluable contribution. At the end, students and their schools were presented with plaques, trophies, ribbons, and cash prizes.
Project Motivational Math designed the acclaimed motivational math program for Southeastern students in grades 3-9. The program utilizes a motivational technique queuing system guaranteed to render immediate results. This motivational mental math rally offers mental math gymnastics, math buzz, place value, math jeopardy, and a written test. Students compete individually, and as part of a team for the team math segment. The innovative motivational supplementary curriculum is compatible with nationwide standards, and is provided to all schools that want to participate. Schools are provided with access to online basic math tutorials and testing resources, a motivational mental math kit which includes a recipe for mental math manual, a motivational math interaction CD, and a webinar for teacher-training with a classroom demonstration with students.
As the techniques are demonstrated with students in the classroom, the fear of mathematics is eliminated, students’ critical thinking skills are enhanced, and they learn to love working with numbers. The areas that are covered to help increase critical thinking include number sense, fractions, percents, mental math and motivation, metrics and measurements, estimation and rounding, decimals, pre-algebra, word problems, geometry, ratios and proportions, and probability.
The teachers facilitating the process really enjoy the opportunity to share and coach their students to get them ready for the competition. They learn a great deal themselves in the midst of it all, and they are astounded by the capabilities of their own students.
Watch for Math Derby to come to an area near you in the future.
Answer to Mental Math Gymnastics relay question: 20.
Southeastern | September 2019