MANATEE — Adding, subtracting and multiplying. Essential, but not especially exciting fare for most elementary school students.
Unless it happens to be World Math Day, and you’re competing to be the fastest kid on the draw with the right answer. Never mind that your opponent is in Ireland, China, Japan or more than 100 other countries around the world.
Wednesday, students at several elementary schools in Manatee County logged on to the Internet to compete with kids around the globe. Face-to-face, the students might not have been able to understand one another due to a language barrier.
But when the language is numbers, there is no such barrier.
Bernadette Fletcher, the math coach at Manatee Elementary School, said that all of her third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students rotated through the computer lab Wednesday to participate.
“We have been announcing it and the kids have been practicing. The kids absolutely love it. They were really excited and they loved doing the practice,” Fletcher said.
“One of my jobs is to create that excitement and find new and exciting ways to do things. Students like anything to do with computers and technology,” Fletcher said.
At Braden River Elementary, fourth-grade teacher Terry Upton was warming up her students for their turn on the computer by using old-fashioned flash cards.
“It’s contest of speed really, and they have been getting faster and faster,” Upton said. “I’ve seen lots of improvement.”
Emma Stock, 9, said she had competed against children from Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States.
“It challenges you,” said Emma.
Braden River classmate Miri Kim called the competition “fun and exciting” and that part of the appeal was competing against kids from Hong Kong and Ireland.
Jacob Diercks said his opponents are represented on his computer by cartoon icons, and part of the fun is being able to give them mustaches or color them green or any other color.
He called the Web site, worldmathday.com, “fun” and “addicting.”
Braden River Elementary teacher Donna Nixon said the event built motivation and enthusiasm among her students and also taught a bit of geography, too.
A map of the world posted on the bulletin board identified the locations of students in more than 100 countries around the world against whom Nixon’s students had competed.
James A. Jones Jr., editor, can be contacted at 708-7916.