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EASTON, PA—Something very exciting happened at the Suntex International offices today – we received our 2015 TECH & LEARNING “Best of Show at ISTE” award.First In Math's 2015 TECH & LEARNING Best In Show award

The prestigious BEST OF SHOW award recognizes premier products at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2015 Conference & Expo.

“We are very excited to give this lovely crystal award a prominent place in our lobby,” says Suntex Executive Vice president Nan Ronis. “Every time I see it serves as a reminder about how hard we all work—and have worked for 20 years—to bring the best possible math products to the education landscape.” 

Teacher Builds Award-Winning
‘Sandcastle’ Salute to the 24 Game

REHOBOTH, DE—As a teacher, Sheila Stephanis has heard her share of ‘what I did on my summer vacation’ stories. This summer, with the help of the 24® GAME, she created one of her own.

Award-winning 24 Game sandcastle
Left: Shelia Stephanis works on the 24 game logo portion of her design. Right: The finished sculpture.

Stephanis, from Marietta, PA, was among more than 100 teams expressing their artistic flair in the sand at the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce 37th Annual Sandcastle Contest on August 1.

“I've been teaching kids how to play the 24 game for 24 years now,” smiles Stephanis, who taught math at Elizabethtown Area Middle School for 19 years, and most recently taught 4-6th grade math at Bear Creek Intermediate School. Now retired, she enjoys sand sculpting, and participates in the contest each year. This year she decided build her sculpture around the 24 game.

Prizes are awarded to the Top 10 sculptures in several categories. Stephanis was one of the winners in the Top 10 Judge’s Favorites (Adult, 15 & up) category. Her sculpture was titled simply, ‘24 Game’.

“I had a lot of nice comments on the sand sculpture and won a trophy, but the interactions with the people were the best part. After my big win, I sent some photos to Suntex, makers of the 24 game and First In Math. I thought they might get a kick out of it,” chuckles Stephanis.

“Everyone in our office was just blown away by this incredible sand sculpture,” says Suntex VP Barbara Asteak. “It is heartwarming to learn how many different ways we touch lives with our games, and how many different mediums are used to express the love and appreciation children and adults have for the family of 24 games.”

“Even though I’m no longer teaching, I still think the 24 game is the greatest,’ says Stephanis. “My kids loved the game and it was a great mental math exercise. They were sharpening their skills but it just felt like fun to them.”

Stephanis especially loves what used to be referred to as the ‘Platinum’ editions—Fractions/Decimals, Algebra/Exponents and Integers—and wishes more kids would become interested in them. “My advanced students were crazy about Platinum cards, and pressed me to teach them concepts that were not yet in their curriculum. They became whizzes at the decimal, fraction, exponent and algebra cards, and finally I had to teach them the integer rules so they could solve integer cards too—even the fourth-graders. They solved cards faster than I did, and I’m pretty good.”

The veteran teacher also used the First in Math program, which she says her students enjoyed, but her greatest memories are still tied to the 24 game. “Back in the day when we had a Pennsylvania State Championship competition, Mr. Sun signed a shirt of mine. I'll frame it when it falls apart. Thanks for inspiring my kids!”

See all 9 Classroom-sized editions of the 24 game, including “Platinum” cards, at

First In Math A ‘Best of Show’ Award Winner
At 2015 ISTE Conference

PHILADELPHIA, PA—Tech & Learning announced its prestigious BEST OF SHOW awards honoring the premier products at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2015 Conference & Expo. The First In Math Online Program was among the winners.

First In Math wins a 2015 BEST of SHOW award from Tech & Learning 

We are honored to have First In Math recognized as a leader in Technology education during a prestigious gathering such as ISTE,” says First in Math CEO Robert Sun.

"We believe that First In Math offers an incredibly engaging technology environment that allows children to become comfortable with—and skilled at—math. When children become confident in their math skills, they activate their own power to connect the dots across a variety of subjects on many different levels.”

Education publisher Education DIVE* described the show floor as a veritable who's who of K-12 ed tech's best and brightest, from Google's virtual reality goggles to knowledge-mapping tech. Their website listed nine tools to keep an eye on—including First In Math.

Winners were selected by an anonymous panel of educators who scoured the exhibit hall floor during the conference, evaluating criteria such as quality, effectiveness, ease of use, and creative use of technology. They then determined which technologies could have the most impact in the classroom.

According to Tech & Learning Content Director, Kevin Hogan, Best of Show judges focus on the “potential of the tech” and which products are seen as game changers. "The award spotlights products and services that show the greatest promise according to the country's most tech-savvy educators."

The largest and most interactive tech event in the world, ISTE's July conference hosted nearly 21,000 teachers, technology coordinators, administrators and policymakers along with 550 exhibitors from 76 nations. More than 1,300 booths offered upward of 1,000 learning opportunities for students and adults.

The four-day conference’s focus on digital-age teaching/learning, leadership, professional development and technology infrastructure was augmented with panel discussions covering more than 39 topics. “Educational technology is a hot topic right now, but it is not new to us,” says former teacher and current First In Math Implementation Specialist Shawn Collier. “For years, First In Math has given teachers a technology resource with the ability to deliver truly individualized instruction.”

* Related: "9 ed tech developments to note from ISTE 2015"

Summer Photo Series

Summer Photo Series #8Summer Photo Series #8

“Mathematics is essential not only to lifetime success, but also for a society's future. If America is to succeed in educating its students for the future, we must create a system wherein the whole individual is addressed, developed, and encouraged to thrive in the pursuit of a better life." —Robert Sun

Read Sun's Education Week blog about Education & Testing

Summer Photo Series

Summer Photo Series 7 (SDP)

Participants, teachers, parents and family members had a great day celebrating mathematics achievement at the 2015 School District of Philadelphia First In Math award ceremony in June.

Summer Photo Series

Summer Photo Series #6

Motivation is propelled by emotion! Children need “emotional fuel” to help them overcome obstacles and setbacks they may encounter at school. As parents, we have the ability to create positive, intrinsic motivation by providing support and encouragement that will that will ignite each child’s natural desire to achieve. —Robert Sun

Learn more about motivation!

Summer Photo Series

Summer Photo Series #5

“I believe that as a society, we need to discuss math, face it head-on, and encourage human interactions that provide children with the motivation to master it. We can start to develop social discourse about math by encouraging all children, from a very early age, to speak the language of mathematics.”  —Robert Sun

"Social Math: Why Speaking Math To Others Is Essential" by Robert Sun

Summer Photo Series

Summer Series #4 - Philadelphia Archdiocese

Philadelphia Archdiocese students were excited to attend a First In Math award ceremony in June celebrating their incredible success in the program. “So proud of our students and schools!”  —Sister Edward Quinn, Director of Elementary Curriculum

Summer Photo Series

BALDI MS Students

Looking back at the School District of Philadelphia’s 2015 First In Math award ceremony in June—these students from Baldi Middle School sure seem like they are having fun!

FIM Summer Photo Series

Summer Series #2 - Boys from SDP Awards

“When we speak the common language of math with vibrancy and passion, we inspire our children to explore and pursue the rich opportunities offered in this essential and universal form of communication.”  —Robert Sun

Summer Photo Series – FIM Champions

SDP Mathletes

Welcome again to our Summer Photo Series. We hope you are enjoying your summer vacation! In June, these Mathletes had fun volunteering to help out at the School District of Philadelphia’s 2015 First In Math award ceremony.

Dedicated Iowa Student Sets and Meets Math Goals

FAIRFIELD, IA—Pence Elementary fourth-grader, Joshua Cardis, ranks #1 among all fourth-graders in Iowa, and #2 among first- through eighth-grade participants in the First In Math online program. He also ranks #41 among all fourth-graders nationally!

Joshua Cardis
Joshua Cardis shows off the certificate he received from school board members. Photo courtesy Steve Cardis.(Photo and full story appeared in the Fairfield Ledger)

Cardis began the program in October, 2014, after teacher Justin Messer introduced it as part of the classroom curriculum. Since then, the energetic 10-year-old has correctly solved tens of thousands of math problems, advancing beyond eighth-grade-level math.               

“I learned fractions, decimals, negative numbers, exponents and algebra,” says Cardis, explaining that the 24 game modules are still his favorite. “You combine numbers using multiplication, addition, subtraction, division, you can use the square root of stuff—but you always come up with the number 24.”

“What Joshua has accomplished takes a lot of work,” explains Tony Morrow, implementation consultant for the First in Math program. “Joshua correctly solved 85,000 math problems since mid-October.”

According to Morrow, Cardis is very intelligent, but more importantly demonstrates grit. “He will stick with something until he gets it.” Morrow was so impressed he sent a personal note of congratulations to Joshua.

“I couldn’t believe it,” says Joshua’s mother, Tina. “It brought tears to my eyes.”

Like Morrow, Pence principal Chuck Benge was also impressed. “I think that it really shows the drive that Josh had—most was performed at home on his own time.”

Joshua has been in the talented and gifted program since he was in kindergarten and has an intrinsic interest to learn on his own, but the First In Math program “really brought it to light,” according to Joshua’s father, Steve, who is an engineer.

Pence Talented and Gifted teacher Ann Hektoen said Joshua is not only gifted in math, but is also an artist and avid reader who has been working on a comic book for two years, drawing the comics himself.

At a recent Fairfield Community School District board meeting, Joshua spoke to board members about what it took to achieve his goals with First in Math.

“It feels good,” Joshua said. “I worked hard at home, and I had to do a lot of stuff inside of school and outside of school.” He also acknowledged that he couldn’t have achieved his goal without the support of Messer, Benge and Hektoen.

Fairfield Schools Superintendent, Laurie Noll, presented Cardis with a certificate of achievement, and says he was also very proud to wear the First In Math medals he received. “Josh told me that he wanted to be No. 1 in the state. This just shows that when students set goals, it helps them to achieve them.”

Joshua is presently attending College for Kids in Mt. Pleasant, and will transfer to Fairfield Middle School in the fall. Not surprisingly, he already has an idea about he wants to be when he grows up.

“I want to be a Lego engineer.”

See More Articles in the News Archive

FIM 2015 Champion:

Albert Wang

2015 Honorable Mention

Daniel Wang (PA)
Ashish Panchumarthy (GA)
Ella Tominac-Ural (PA)
Pranav Jothi (VA)
Vy Trinh-Nguyen (PA)
Ani Rudh Rao (PA)
Samantha Brown (PA)
Trey Miller (MD)
Joseph Baker (PA)

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Maribel C. Ordonez (NJ)
Umbrenda Fisher (MD)
Adam Yaller (PA)
Annejeanette Washington (FL)
Lisa Weingartner (FL)
Shairin Brown (FL)
Tyrail Thomas (GA)
Samuel Allison (FL)
Guadalupe Vecchitto (CA)
Michelle Martin (PA)

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Baldi MS (PA)
Indian Trace ES (FL)
Franklin Towne Elem Chtr (PA)
Wilson MS (PA)
Umana (Mario) Academy (MA)
St. Francis Desales (PA)
Frank ES (PA)
Cedarville ES (IN)
Luella ES (GA)
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St. Laurence School (PA)
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Mother of Providence (PA)
Sacred Heart School (PA)
Hale Community School (MN)
Waynesville MS (OH)
St. Theresa School (CA)
St. Gabriel's School (PA)

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