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West Hernando Middle School's Math Mania gives parents and their kids a chance to work out FCAT math problems for fun.

By PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE, Times Correspondent
Published December 20, 2007


BROOKSVILLE - A recent event at West Hernando Middle School had all the makings of a party: hot dogs, music, presents, Santa hats. The one thing that seemed out of place, but which actually fit right in, was the heavy emphasis on mathematics.

The school's math department was holding its third Math Mania, an evening for students and their parents coordinated by teacher Jeff Yungmann to help parents understand what kinds of questions their children deal with on the FCAT.

The cafeteria hosted hands-on activities and had sample FCAT problems on boards around the room, separated by grade level. Some activities were aimed at all grade levels.

While Christmas music played, children and their families circulated among math games such as "A Pizza Problem," where they could earn coupons donated by Pizza Hut; and Probo, a probability board where the children could get coupons donated by Chili's.

There were chances to guess the number of M&Ms in jars, a Jeopardy! center, an "FCAT Scavenger Hunt," puzzles, and games with blocks. To win prizes, though, the students had to hit the FCAT tables.

There were 10 questions for each grade level, and students and their parents were encouraged to try ones at the appropriate level. When students finished the FCAT questions, they took their answers to the checker table where they received tickets for the prize drawing and free homework passes.

Prize drawings were made throughout the evening. Winners could chose from a variety of games, including Clue,Uno,Connect 4,Battleship and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?

Parents and students filled the room, brows furrowed, as they contemplated the problems before them. Some munched on hot dogs.

"I think it's a great way to teach about math," said sixth-grader Jessica Orince, who was there with her father, Frais Orince.

Parent Bertha Crespo was very enthusiastic about the event.

"I love it! I love math," she said. Her daughter, sixth-grader Andrea Crespo, didn't share her mother's enthusiasm for math, but she seemed to enjoy the event nonetheless.

"I think it's pretty fun," she said. "It helps you practice, and it helps you going into FCAT."

Seventh-grader Jordan Fertig brought both his parents. His mother, Marianne, came last year. This year his father came, too.

"I think it's interesting. It's nice really," Jonathan Fertig said, admitting that some of it was a little challenging. "It's doable."

West Hernando Middle principal Joe Clifford said the event's purpose is to "demystify math, to help parents understand what our kids are learning in our classrooms. It's fun. It's exciting. We have a good time with it."

Paulette Lash Ritchie can be reached at eduritchie@yahoo.com.

Sample questions

These are some of the sample FCAT problems the students and their parents tried to solve at West Hernando Middle's Math Mania.

Sixth grade

Let b represent the number of bananas in a fruit bowl. In the bowl there are two fewer apples and twice the number of bananas. Which expression represents the number of apples in the bowl?

a. 2b-2

b. b + 2

c. 2 + 2b

d. 2b-2e_SClB

Florida Highway 39 and 674 are perpendicular to one another where they cross. What kinds of angles are formed by their intersection?

a. Acute

b. Obtuse

c. Straight

d. Right

Seventh grade

Marlene sells travel kits for World's Ocean Lines. Marlene gets 10 percent of her monthly kit sales. If Marlene sells 15 kits in January at $12.50 each, how much money will she make from the kits?

Morgan has bought three pounds of flour to make biscuits for the camp-out breakfast. His recipe called for 40 ounces of flour to be used. How many pounds of flour will Morgan have left after he bakes the biscuits?

Eighth grade

Claudia is standing near a lighthouse. The lighthouse casts a shadow that is 12 feet in length. If Claudia is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and casts a 2-foot shadow, what is the height of the lighthouse?

a. 132 feet

b. 90 feet

c. 66 feet

d. 33 feet

Brad makes $6.25 an hour as a receptionist. If he works seven and three quarters hours each day, five days per week, about how much does he earn in a week?

a. $42

b. $210

c. $240

d. $340

Answers: 2b-2, right, $18.75, 0.5 (or one half) pound of flour, 33 feet, $240