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Ironton Middle School competes in World Math Day

It’s not the attitude that Beth Johnson is accustomed to seeing from her math students. Rather than running for the door when the bell rings, her students have been asking to stay and solve more math equations.

“I have kids wanting to leave gym class to come play,” said Johnson, an algebra and pre-algebra teacher at Ironton Middle School. “I’m not used to this. They usually want to run out of my class, not stay.”

The students’ seemingly newfound love for mathematics has been fueled by a global competition.

Johnson’s classes participated in World Math Day.

Slated for March 3, the competition actually lasts 48 hours. As long as it is March 3 somewhere in the world, the competition is on.

The students compete online by attempting to solve the most addition, subtraction, division and multiplication equations in a certain amount of time.

These skills are the foundation for advanced mathematical equations, Johnson said.

“You’ll never get away from basic skills,” Johnson said. “The problems may be more complex, but it always boils down to those skills.”

While the students can use a calculator, they learned that they are better off just using their heads.

“What they’re finding is that they’re minds are quicker than the calculators,” she said, adding that the devices were only slowing down the students.

The competition started 6 a.m. Tuesday. Some of Johnson’s students were awake that morning, getting an early start on the competition. Others stayed after school with Johnson and fellow math teacher John Hunt to keep competing.

About 37,000 schools participated this year. The website keeps a running total of the students and schools statistics.

For a while Tuesday evening, IMS, was ranked 32 of all the schools participating.

“The fact that we can rank with (some of the best schools) on our first time out is really neat,” she said.

By Wednesday morning, some schools in Malaysia had climbed the ranks, taking Ironton’s spot.

“Right now Malaysia is leading, but as soon as they go to sleep we’re going to take over,” Johnson said.

While Malaysia is proving to be competition for the school, Student Nate Garred had his eye on nation in our own backyard that is shaping up to be a challenge.

“Canada — it’s like one of the hardest ones,” Garred said. “They are fast.”

For Trevor Easterling, Cananda and China have been the biggest challenges. The eighth grader said practicing has helped him learn the math.

“It’s not (difficult) once you practice a lot,” he said. “I spent a long time practicing. I’m not very good at my division.”

While Johnson is proud that her students, along with Hunt’s classes, have done so well during the school’s first time competing, she has set a goal for them.

“We’re trying to get one of the classes in the (official) top 50,” Johnson said.