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School makes math fun, tangible for students

Photo by Johnny Jackson 
First-grader Tae Bacon, 6, adds up the price of items his friends return to him in order to create a budgeted grocery list. The activity was one of 10 Thursday celebrating Alfretta A. Harper Elementary School’s Math Focus Week.

Photo by Johnny Jackson First-grader Tae Bacon, 6, adds up the price of items his friends return to him in order to create a budgeted grocery list. The activity was one of 10 Thursday celebrating Alfretta A. Harper Elementary School’s Math Focus Week.

RIVERDALE — About 150 first-graders were focused on their good time, adding and subtracting numbers.

Across the gymnasium, Ibn Uqdah, 7, hurried to the mock pantry to collect food items for his classmate Tae Bacon, 6, to add to his grocery list. The students were adding the prices together for their pretend grocery bill.

The grocery store scenario was part of a 10-activity event for the first-graders Thursday, called “The Math Decathlon,” at Alfretta A. Harper Elementary School.

Debra Patrick is the school’s site facilitator for math. She organized Math Focus Week with the help of parents, students, assistant principal Dr. Kristen Vaughn and area math facilitator Dr. Shakeria Chaney.

The week of math-centered activities included age-appropriate lessons and exercises that mimic the world of business and commerce.

Patrick expects students, like Uqdah and Bacon, will be well-served in the long run when they gain an appreciation for math early.

“I hope for the children to be able to come in and participate in fun, interactive math activities that relate to real world experiences,” said Patrick. “I want for them to understand the role that math plays for them in their everyday life.”

Uqdah is getting a head start with the lessons as he wants to be a scientist “so I can do experiments.” Bacon said he wants to be an “animal doctor” when he grows up.

His mother, Amanda Furgason, is parent volunteer at the school. She has volunteered all week with various activities planned for the students.

“It’s a different way to encourage math for them,” Furgason said. “And they’re getting excited about it.”