The Challenge 24 Competition is a mathematics competition for 3rd-, 4th-, 5th-, 6th-, and 7th-graders, hosted each spring by the SBU Department of Mathematics. Participants play the 24 Game, which involves a deck of cards, each showing four whole numbers between 1 and 9. When presented with a card, the players strive to be the first to combine the four numbers to make 24 using only addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Many cards have more than one solution. The game can be surprisingly challenging, but the participants in Challenge 24 are quite good, having previously won competitions within their own schools. The coordinator for the SBU Challenge 24 Competition is Dr. Doug Cashing.
The 24 Game was developed in 1988 by Robert Sun to provide students with a fun way to discover patterns among numbers. Sun founded the company Suntex International Inc. to market the game.
Each card in the 24 Game is marked with one dot, two dots, or three dots to indicate its level of difficulty. Generally, the higher the number of dots, the more challenging the card. To the right is a two-dot card containing the numbers 2, 3, 4, and 4. Try making 24 with the numbers on this card. Remember: you must use each of the numbers 2, 3, 4, and 4 exactly once and the only operations you may use are addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. (Since you must use each of the numbers 2, 3, 4, and 4 exactly once, you will end up using 4 twice.) You do not need to use all four of the operations and you may use an operation more than once. There are three essentially different solutions for this card. Can you find all of them? Clicking the buttons below the card will reveal these solutions.
The Department of Mathematics needs about 30 volunteers to run the Challenge 24 Competition. If you would like to work with kids who love math, sign up to help us! Elementary education majors are particularly encouraged to volunteer. The competition is held on a Saturday in March or early April. The next competition will be planned in the fall, at which time volunteers will be solicited by Dr. Cashing by email and in mathematics classes.
The 2014 Challenge 24 Competition was held on Saturday, April 5. There were forty-five students from seven schools attending this year. The participating schools were Austin Area, Cuba-Rushford Middle School, East View Elementary (in Olean), Hinsdale, Olean Intermediate Middle School, Otto-Eldred Elementary School, and Portville. Medals, in the traditional colors of gold, silver, and bronze, were awarded to the first, second, and third place students in each grade. Congratulations to all!
Previous Challenge 24 Competitions (participating schools & winners)
The student organizers for the 2013 competition were Margaret Atherton, Amrita Maniram, Esther St. Cloud, Rebecca Tallman, and Steven Zimmer. These students were invaluable assistants to Dr. Cashing in the planning and execution of Challenge 24. Thank you!
On a cold Saturday morning in March, you might expect elementary school and middle school students to be watching TV, texting their friends, or playing outside among the remnants of winter. You may be mostly right---but not completely. In western New York, some 3rd-, 4th-, 5th-, 6th-, and 7th-graders have traveled with parents and teachers to St. Bonaventure University to compete in a math competition. That's a rather beautiful thing.
The Challenge 24 Competition is organized by Dr. Doug Cashing and about five Bona's students. The organizers are aided by about 30 volunteers, who range from SBU students to SBU faculty to middle school teachers to parents. The organizers and volunteers are here for one reason: to celebrate the wonderfully-talented elementary and middle school students who love math so much that they spend a Saturday morning in a math competition. Challenge 24 also celebrates the teachers and the parents who coached and supported their students and children. The following photos of Challenge 24 were taken over the years and together chronicle a single competition.
Prior to the first round, a student organizer gives the proctors last-minute
instructions in the Doyle Dining Room (above), while coordinator Dr. Doug Cashing
answers questions from students and parents in the adjacent Trustees Room (below).
During the Individual Round (seen in the photos above below), students
compete against the deck and the clock. As this round progresses, the room is
is suffused with the murmur of arithmetic operations. The proctors are amazed
by the mathematical skills demonstrated by the participants in Challenge 24.
The Individual Round requires a large number of proctors; some parents and
teachers lend a hand to help the round proceed more efficiently. Thank you!
Proctors stand at the ready seconds before
students enter the room for the
next round of competition.
During the Group Round, students within each grade level compete against
one another in groups of four. In the photo above, a student gives his solution as
his fellow competitors and the two proctors listen intently.
Challenge 24 culminates with the Group Finals, in which the top six students
from each grade level compete against one another. Rather than solve a single card,
students must now supply a missing number to solve two cards simultaneously.
The photo above shows the Group Final for grade 4.
Medals, in the traditional colors of gold, silver, and bronze, are presented to the
first, second, and third place students in each grade level. Subsequently, photos of the
winners are printed in the Olean Times Herald.
Around the time of the Challenge 24 Competition, Dr. Hill puts up a display on
a large bulletin board near the Mathematics Suite in De La Roche Hall. The display
describes the 24 Game and the Challenge 24 Competition and includes fun
facts about the number 24 (see below). It features enlargements of several 24 Game
cards, arranged in the form of a giant "24", so that curious passersby can play the game.
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