FIM News

New York State Math Stars Shine in Albany

First In Math partners with New York State Education Department to sponsor statewide elementary math competition.

ALBANY, NY — The New York State Education Department (NYSED) and Suntex International Inc. joined forces to bring a Statewide Elementary Mathematics Tournament to New York, culminating in a May 20, 2023 Championship that saw 150 elementary school students from across the state compete in a first-of-its-kind math event at the University at Albany.

All New York State students in grades 1 through 5 enrolled in Suntex International’s innovative FIRST IN MATH program were invited to participate in this groundbreaking tournament. To get to the Championship, students had to compete in an online "Virtual Regional Tournament" that whittled down participants into just 50 Teams — three students per grade from the same school — coming from 10 regions across the state.

Regional Tournament winners were awarded $1,000 for their school. The first-place Team at each grade level at the Statewide Championship took home a $5,000 prize for their school; second and third-place winners took home silver and bronze medals.

The University's Campus Center Ballroom was filled with tables supervised by state-certified teachers trained as Proctors — each occupied by three "very energetic" students, according to NYSED Deputy Education Commissioner Jason Harmon. "We have students from every corner of the state here. It's a really exciting opportunity for students to show what they can do when it comes to mathematics."

"Exciting!" was the first word that came to mind for Shannon Logan, NYSED Director of Standards, Instruction, and Educational technology. "We have 150 children from first grade to fifth grade here today with parents, teachers and administrators all to compete together."

Dr. Santosha Oliver, NYSED Assistant Commissioner from the Office of Standards and Instruction, delivered a heartfelt message that spoke to the nature and importance of the event: "Students who excel in math today will be the innovators and problem-solvers of tomorrow."

Each Team of three students worked together on grade-appropriate challenges based on games from First In Math and Suntex's popular 24® Game series.

Competition focused on building “wheels” using four different numbered cards placed on a board. Grades 1-2 built wheels with a sum of 10, with points given for how many wheels were made and if duplicate numbers were used. Grades 3, 4 and 5 had to match numbers with a common factor to build a wheel, with the number of points corresponding to each wheel's common factor.

"This was a real test of the math skills students had been practicing all year, as students were presented with things they had not seen until right before the event," explains Robert Sun, First In Math/24 Game inventor and the founder of Suntex. Sun headed the First In Math team tasked with planning the virtual and in-person math challenges students would face. "Students had to build on the math they knew, but apply it in new ways, demonstrating deep understanding and mastery of not only fact fluency, but procedural fluency, at their grade level."

Watch video highlights of the event

Andrea Faoro, program manager and NYSED Associate in Instructional Services, Mathematics, says the championship event required a lot of cooperation and took about a year to plan. "Everyone from NYSED, the First In Math team and all of our volunteers did a fantastic job, the tournament was a huge success!"

In 2020, NYSED selected the First In Math Online Program as a resource to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) readiness for K-5 students throughout the state and provided free access to all schools. Students use First in Math in class or at home as an additional resource to promote math and improve fact fluency, procedural fluency and computational-thinking skills. 

Part of the NYSED's Expanded Mathematics Access Program (EMAP) for Grades K-5, this initiative exists to provide students with access to online standards-based, math games and activities at no cost to NYS districts or students. The additional practice provides support to assist students in meeting grade-level fluency expectations and is accessible at school and at home to further help families to support their student’s math education. The use of this optional program is flexible. This flexibility can include enrichment/extension, fun summer learning, and/or to supplement/complement current work being done in the classroom.

2023 New York State Elementary Mathematics Tournament Winners

1st grade:

  • 1st place — Bolivar Road Elementary, Chittenango Central School District (Wilson Cary, Brayden Calabro, John Enders)
  • 2nd place — W.S. Mount Elementary, Three Village Central School District (Aurna Chakraborty, Isaac Wang, Michael Gerber)
  • 3rd place — P.S. 144 Col. Jeromus Remsen, New York City Community School District 28 (Mark Wofsey, Kara Chen, Owen Forman-Maltz)

2nd grade:

  • 1st place — Pine Brook Elementary, Greece Central School District (Gemma Pisciotti, Rediet Yilma, Santino Markle)
  • 2nd place — New Explorations Science Technology Math, New York City Community School District 1 (Rinka Akayama, Raima Das, Isabella Lu)
  • 3rd place — Deasy Elementary, Glen Cove City School District (Dru Wilson, Tommy Scagliola, Jacob Palazzo)

3rd grade:

  • 1st place — Nassakeag Elementary, Three Village Central School District (Talinn Kim, Catherine Hu, Easton Tang)
  • 2nd place — George A. Jackson Elementary, Jericho Union Free School District (Eugene Wong, Andrew Li, Matthew Huang)
  • 3rd place — Chancellor Livingston Elementary, Rhinebeck Central School District (Alexander Kim, Somi Rothenhaus, Brayden Traudt)

4th grade:

  • 1st place — Thornell Road Elementary, Pittsford Central School District (Herene Shim, Naveen Madhavan, Kazmir Povelaites)
  • 2nd place — Hinsdale Central Elementary, Hinsdale Central School District (Mya Goodling, Mia Souder, Avery Vosler)
  • 3rd place — Hampton Bays Elementary, Hampton Bays Union Free School District (William Loudenslager, Jack Huebner, Annabel Ramsay)

5th grade:

  • 1st place — Main Street School, Irvington Union Free School District (Nicholas Bugaj, Ella Soleimani, Cassidy Reichgott)
  • 2nd place — George F. Johnson Elementary, Union-Endicott Central School District (Caleb Peck, Sophia Shi, Aidan Lewin)
  • 3rd place — P.S. 94 David D. Porter School, New York City School District 26 (Kyle Wang, Nathan Chen Liu, Gabriel Valladares)

Why Children Are Anxious About Mathematics

By Robert Sun

I spent many years working as an electrical engineer, where solving problems was a daily routine. I've also spent more than 30 years helping millions of students discover mathematics.

Here is what I've learned: When a mind is anxious or fearful, it cannot solve even the simplest of problems.

Why are so many children anxious about math? Many are unprepared because they do not practice.

There is no acquired skill that you can get good at without practice, and math is no exception. Learners need immediate feedback to sustain practice, otherwise it quickly becomes a boring, meaningless activity.

Children practice sports because their eyes provide immediate feedback; they practice the piano, and their ears tell them everything they need to know.

Unfortunately, we do not have the same inherent feedback mechanism for math. For math, we rely on another person to provide an assessment as a basis for improvement. But the minute we perform in front of someone else, our mind becomes anxious. We worry about making mistakes and being judged or criticized.

With this problem in mind, I designed First In Math to leverage the power of digital technology and provide children immediate feedback without judgement.

The games start easy to relax the mind. Rigor is introduced on a favorable gradient as success is confirmed. Objectives are designed with a short cycle of play to maintain focus. Mistakes are quickly redirected without penalty.

Students never stagnate when using this design, and often advance far beyond what they imagined possible. Children begin teaching themselves and learning new skills on their own as they strive to push themselves further.

We call this Fearless Practice, and it produces results! To date, players have solved more than 27 BILLION problems on the First In Math platform.

Schools report double-digit increases in standardized test scores. Title I Schools are transformed into Blue Ribbon schools.

A culture of growth, achievement and joy takes root within a school community, where practice and an eagerness to tackle tough problems combine to create fearless learners.

More about Robert Sun, inventor of the 24® Game and creator of FIRST IN MATH® Online

New York Student Shares Love for First in Math

Even before the New York State Education Department [NYSED] chose First In Math Online as a resource to support STEM readiness for K-5 students throughout the state, Colonel Jeromus Remsen School (PS144Q in Forest Hills; CSD 28) had already signed on to strengthen two areas of focus: Math and helping students of all skill levels succeed.

"In 2020, the arrival of the Pandemic highlighted the importance of supporting students," explains Nan Ronis of First In Math. Mathematics Enrichment Teacher Debra Kessler and Principal Jennifer Lucadamo created a plan that would support both Math Achievement and the school’s focus on students. Kessler initiated the implementation, energizing each class, starting with her own fourth-grade remote students.

As part of a fourth-grade remote team, Ethan Chan and his peers soon became First In Math champions simply by explaining and playing First In Math while visiting other classes. "That leadership role was very important for Ethan," says Kessler. Now a fifth grader, he shares his experience with the program and how it speaks to student needs, as well as Math Achievement.

What I Love About First in Math

by Ethan Chan

If there’s one thing I love about First in Math, it would be how it connects the whole classroom together. First in Math is like the threads that hold a shirt together: binding and bringing the classroom together as one. Whenever my classmates play First In Math, we talk and share our ideas.

“What games do you play?”
“How did you get so many stickers?”
“Look, this person is in second place, that’s amazing!”

This is what I would often hear throughout my classroom. Just talking and asking questions about how someone got so many points would always put a smile on a person's face. And there would be a good chance you would get a smile on your face if you were asked these questions.

In addition, First in Math also applies educational learning and fun! I always learn something new about math. This is what I love about First in Math. Not only does it play the role of weaving the school together, I often find it an opportunity to make a new friend or two. So get out there and open up First in Math. Once you’re in your classroom, or at home with your friends or siblings, the magic of this program will finally begin.

Editor's Note: Ethan Chan's letter about why he loves First In Math is wonderful, and I thank his parents for allowing me to share it with you. Kudos to Principal Jennifer Lucadamo and First In Math School Anchor Debra Kessler for inspiring their students to such high levels of math achievement: currently the #1 First In Math School in the State and #8 in the U.S. —Robert Sun, Inventor of the 24® Game and creator of FIRST IN MATH®.

From Strength to Strength: Brothers Achieve Success in More Ways Than One

I receive many wonderful letters from parents and children, and I feel compelled to share this uplifting message that speaks to the true meaning of success and achievement — Robert Sun, inventor of 24® Game and creator of First In Math®

Left to right: Brothers Matan & Doron. ranked 3rd and 2nd, respectively, among all grades in the First In Math Online Program Year-End National Rankings for the 2020-2021 school year.

Our younger twin son, Doron, has already completed ALL games on First in Math this year. I want to make you aware of the significance of this achievement and, in a tangential way, your involvement in it.

Doron has multiple special needs that interfere with executive functioning and memory retention, making his 11th-place finish last year in the First In Math Rankings most impressive.

Particularly difficult for children facing the challenges he faces are the need to re-learn some concepts that may have been forgotten from a month or two before, develop coping mechanisms to retain complex data over short- and medium-term periods, develop sustained focus (particularly in the face of failure), and hold on to the ordered elements of projects that involve longer horizons.

Yes, I did work with him to explain and to aid his development of these skills, but it is a pure testament to his character that, working completely on his own, he was able and willing to achieve something great with the faith that he could succeed despite not being able to see the goals fully ahead of time. My wife and I are overjoyed with how well he has done in terms of his broader human growth experience.

As this year's Rankings competition deadline arrives, it may be unlikely that he will maintain his current second place position when all is said and done. Other children — not to mention his brother, Matan — are catching up.

That being said, it doesn’t matter as much as his personal achievement, and what’s really great is that he knows it. He obviously would like to be in the top 10, but he knows his real achievement is sticking with it and completing everything and that’s why we are so proud of him — and his brother, Matan (who also has special needs). The First In Math program has taught them many things, only a small portion of which has to do with Math.

We want to thank you so much for creating this program and for your willingness to engage with children, in particular. Having that Zoom session last year and including Doron in it definitely inspired him to push harder this year.

As we say in my faith tradition: May you go from strength to strength. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of our children and in our family.

Gerald and Sarah F.

Editor's Note: This letter was written prior to the conclusion of National Top Ten competition on April 30, 2021. Doron maintained his 2nd-place ranking and Matan advanced to 3rd, making the brothers National Top Ten Award winners!

First In Math Achievements Add Up to New Bicycles

The following article is reprinted with permission from the website - a news source for Liberty County, Texas, and the surrounding area. All photos are © Bluebonnet News

First America Homes, the homebuilding division of the Signorelli company, has teamed up with Cleveland ISD teacher, Tracy Spears, to reward her 2nd and 3rd grade students with new bicycles, just in time for summer.

First America Homes, the homebuilding division of the Signorelli company, presented bikes to 64 deserving Cottonwood Elementary students on Wednesday, May 26. The students who received bikes had the highest math scores for Cleveland ISD in the First in Math program. Danny Signorelli (center), owner of The Signorelli Company, said he was pleased to be part of giving back to the community and for rewarding the students' successes.

Spears, RTI Specialist at Cottonwood Elementary, started the campus’s participation in a national program for struggling students called ‘First in Math’. The pilot program rolled out in October 2020 and is focused on helping students practice math in a fun way, while being rewarded with pizza parties, recognition, and the opportunity to be crowned as Math Queen/King every week.

“The students have excelled and their progress was shown on our last district test. These amazing kids had the highest math scores in the district!” said Spears. “With students participating before and after school this year, they have solved well over one million math problems.”

Spears, who has been an educator for 26 years and is finishing her first year with Cleveland ISD, challenged students to continue pushing for the 2 million math problem milestone by the deadline in July. Currently Cottonwood Elementary has the top third-grade math team in the entire state of Texas and four Cottonwood Elementary teams scored in the top 25 teams for the state. Ms. Christiana Chavez’s third-grade class earned the top spot in the rankings.

Spears came up with the idea to reward top achieving Cottonwood Elementary students for their efforts with a bicycle and helmet. Because of the huge success the program has seen, more and more students have become top achievers. Spears decided to reach out to local businesses in an effort to get a single bicycle donated. When the request came through, the local homebuilder chose to do more.

“At First America Homes, we are building homes in many of the Greater Houston area suburbs. The kids in our schools are important to us, and we are excited to not only give back, but also to invest in the future of Texas, the children and teachers like Mrs. Spears,” said Dave Barnhart, Division President for First America Homes.

Danny Signorelli, CEO of the Signorelli Company, echoed Barnhart’s sentiments. “The Signorelli Company and First America Homes takes pride in our impacts on the community. When we saw this teacher going above and beyond, we couldn’t help but step up and recognize her for her excellence in the most critical job we have! Education is our future. God Bless Mrs. Spears for caring and going the extra step to make a difference in the children and our future.”

Cottonwood Elementary students raised their hands when asked about their participation in the First in Math program. Cottonwood’s third-grade class taught by Ms. Christiana Chavez ranks first in the state of Texas in the First in Math program

Signorelli added that donating the bikes was the easy part.

“Math and science are critical for these students. The results that Ms. Spears has been able to get are just amazing,” he said.

A total of 64 bikes were distributed with First America and the Signorelli Company purchasing 24 of them. Funds to purchase the rest of the bikes were donated by Fish Tales, Colony Ridge, Texas Farm Bureau-Baret Stephenson, Casas Houston, El Timador, Fat Floyd’s Smokehouse and Martin Chevrolet.

Cottonwood Elementary students hold up signs showing the other donors of 64 bikes that were presented to students for scoring the highest in the First in Math program. In addition to First America Homes and The Signorelli Company, other donors were Martin Chevrolet, Fat Floyd’s Smokehouse, Colony Ridge, Fish Tales, Texas Farm Bureau-Baret Stephenson, Casas Houston and El Timador Mexican Restaurant.

First In Math Editor's Note:

First In Math Texas Representative, Tony Morrow, attended the big presentation and came away "amazed at the generosity of this community, and the impact local businesses can have when they chip in and multiply the excitement among the teachers and students in our program." Morrow also had high praise for Spears. "Tracy set up a lab at school and many come in at 6:30 AM to play First in Math and stay after school, as well, because nearly 80% of them say the only other place they can play is on their parent’s cell phone. In a brilliant move, she opened K2 World for 3rd graders that were behind due to COVID19 or other factors. She and her husband even assembled many of the bikes themselves—I told her I need to figure out a way to clone her!"


"First In Math Has Been An MVP During the Pandemic"

One Billion is an incredibly large number that can be hard to comprehend. Consider this: one million seconds = 12 days, but one billion seconds = 32 YEARS.

Incredibly, First In Math students solved ONE BILLION MATH PROBLEMS online during the pandemic!

Is this amazing feat simply a result of special circumstances? No. Can this level of deep practice be sustained? Absolutely! Since First In Math was launched in 2002, students have solved more than 26.2 BILLION math problems and counting.

In the words of Dr. Jack Silva, Chief Academic Officer of the Bethlehem Area School District:

"First In Math has been an MVP during the pandemic. One instructional challenge has been finding fun, challenging, and relevant web-based programming that students can use from home to strengthen foundational skills. Too often such programming is either boringly simple or painfully difficult. First In Math has been just right – providing engaging, meaningful learning experiences that teachers can use to introduce, refresh, or extend important skills. Bethlehem students enjoy the games and challenges, and we have seen improvement in students' math skills when they meet their individual FIM goals."

We don't move the needle in math achievement alone. To our partners — the students, teachers, administrators and parents who played a part in this year's accomplishment by continuing to reach for the stars under difficult circumstances — THANK YOU!

I look forward to everything we can accomplish together in the coming year and can't wait to welcome even more new partners to the First In Math family. Let's get primed to think mathematically!

Robert Sun
24 Game and First In Math Inventor
Founder and Chairman, Suntex International Inc.

First In Math Named 2020 AACPS Partner of the Year

EASTON, PA—First in Math®, and its parent company, Suntex International Inc., have been named 2020 Anne Arundel County Public Schools Business Partner of the Year. Due to COVID-19 closures, the announcement was made on Twitter on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, after a week-long social media celebration recognizing all 19 of this year’s nominees.

Robert Sun, inventor of the 24® Game and creator of the First In Math Online Program, records a long-distance message about his company's 2020 Business Partner of the Year award.

First In Math creator, Robert Sun, was proud to accept the award. "We were delighted to be nominated by the AACPS Elementary Mathematics Office, and then to be selected as one of the AACPS Business Partners of the Year—it's thrilling."

"2020 has been a year of many ups and downs. This honor is a definite UP," explains Sun, who says he is grateful to AACPS students, parents, teachers, educators, principals, and leadership for giving the First In Math team an opportunity to work closely with such an exceptional district.

In recognition of the Office of Elementary Math Department's close partnership with First In Math, Amanda Salveron, Coordinator of Elementary Mathematics for Anne Arundel County Public Schools, recorded a congratulatory message posted on Twitter and other social media channels. "Because of your partnership, elementary—and now middle schools—are better problem-solvers and mathematicians, solving millions of math problems on the First In Math platform. Teachers and staff have grown because of your ongoing support, and we are all better because of you."

As is the case with any good partnership, both parties continue to grow. Sun says he is proud that during the school closings AACPS students "never skipped a beat and continued working on and improving their math skills. With well-thought-out suggestions from the talented group of professionals in the AACPS Math Department, we have been able to add new features to First In Math that benefit all students who use the program."

According to Sun, one of the people who made the partnership work so well is Elementary Mathematics Resource Teacher, Penny Alberti. "Her professionalism and lively personality made everything run smoothly. We are sad to be saying goodbye, but we’re are very happy for her as she enters retirement."

“We are grateful to Amanda Salveron, and we greatly appreciate the dedication the district shows to their staff, students and families, so as we thank them for the recognition, we also wish them all a well-deserved summer break, and look forward to continuing our partnership in the 2020/2021 school year!"

"Our school system is incredibly grateful for the support First in Math has provided our students, teachers, and school community," says Lauren Grey-Hawkins, Business & Communication Specialist for AACPS.

Per an AACPS press release, the school system depends on community and business partners to ensure that students have opportunities to explore their personal interests, and engage in unique learning experiences. Winners were selected in three categories: Service & Small Non-Profit Organizations; Businesses with under 50 employees; Businesses with 50 or more employees.

@AACountySchools | @AACPS_PK5Math | @RobertSun | @FirstInMath

New Jersey Students Take 24® Game Tournament Online

SEWELL, NJ— The bustle of a crowded classroom may have been missing, but it didn't stop the excitement from flowing at Wedgwood Elementary School’s 7th Annual 24® Game Championship Tournament, held—for the first time ever—completely online!

Wedgwood Elementary School fifth-grader, Luke Ridgeway (center), at home with his Champion's Certificate, is surrounded by other tournament finalists. Ridgeway also received a 24® Game Champion t-shirt and a LEGO® trophy built by his Teacher, Domenick Renzi.

Fifth-grader Luke Ridgeway was crowned Champion in an exciting one-card overtime matchup against fellow fifth-grader Melanie Liguori, who received gold and silver medals respectively. The event, held on June 2, was a culmination of weeks of practice.

Students signed up to attend online practice sessions organized by Wedgwood Math Teacher Domenick Renzi, a 2017 Washington Township Public School District Teacher of the Year, 2018 Gloucester County Teacher of the Year and 2018 NJ State Teacher of the Year finalist.

According to Renzi, everything took place online using WebEX. "These dedicated fourth- and fifth-grade mathematicians spent three weeks practicing with 24® Game Single and Double Digits cards to prepare for the tournament. I am proud to say many had the opportunity to play against former Wedgwood 24 Game Champs who took time out to join our practice sessions."

Mentor-champions included current Washington Township High School ninth-grader, Michael Valentino, Chestnut Ridge Middle School (CRMS) seventh-grader, Nicky Watson, and CRMS sixth- grader, Vincent Valentino.

During the online event, each student played twice and the scores were combined, with the top four scorers—Zach Clark, Melanie Liguori, Andrew Robinson and Ridgeway—advancing to the championship match. All finalists received certificates and MVP Lanyards. 

Creator of the 24 Game, Robert Sun, is impressed. "Kudos to these great 'Mustang Math' teammates for helping to keep the tradition of 24 Game competitions ongoing at their school—even through a pandemic!" Equally impressive, says Sun, is the fact that as of this writing, WES has 59 First In Math® Grand Champions, meaning each of these students has successfully solved more than 30,000 math problems in the program.

In the past, Renzi has organized 24 Game and First In Math competitions for students inside the school environment, and says whether in school or online, it is always a community effort. "Many thanks to our student mentors, Principal Charles Zimmerman, and especially the Washington Township Education Foundation for providing us with a small grant to purchase the 24 Game cards."

Top FIM Kindergarten Team in the Nation Meets Inventor

In-person visits are out of the question right now, but that didn't stop First In Math inventor, Robert Sun, from meeting with the students on Team 'Alive58pa' — the Top-Ranked Kindergarten Team in the Nation!  Students, Sun, Principal Mickey Komins, Assistant Principals Khloe Williams and Michael Tauber, and Teacher/Team Leader Jason Nash connected via Zoom meeting on May 27.

First In Math inventor, Robert Sun, joins a Zoom meeting with several members of the Number 1 Kindergarten First In Math team in the Nation! Top row: Robert Sun and Teacher/Team Leader Jason Nash. Second row: Principal Mickey Komins and Assistant Principal Michael Tauber. Third row: Assistant Principal Khloe William.  Photo credit: Nancy Kane

Teacher Jason Nash had high praise for his Team. "These are five- and six-year-old students from all over the world. They didn’t compete with each other—they helped and encouraged each other. They never gave up."

Nash says that some of their favorite games are RPS Chess and any Bonus game, but recalls how much they enjoyed it when a new game was released, "the word would spread like wildfire in the room."

Komins laughed in agreement, "We all like when new games are released—it reinvigorates you!" Komins then thanked the students for their spirit and determination. "Ms. Williams, Mr. Tauber and I are all very proud of you—most importantly we want you to remember, you did this, you earned it, be proud of yourselves!"

Sun fielded a few student questions, including the ever-popular "How did you make First In Math?" and told the students he was proud of them, adding "You are lucky to be in such a special place—at Anne Frank—with teachers who care about you."

Anne Frank Elementary School is part of the School District of Philadelphia, and a long-time First In Math partner. Team Alive58pa's 30 students earned an amazing 190,484 stickers, and are part of a large group of successful students and educators. Anne Frank is ranked #1 nationally among All Schools/All Grades in the Large School category, and Principal Mickey Komins is the #9 Educator Player in the nation.

"It was a little intimidating at first for these young children, to meet Mr. Sun, but they caught on quickly and did a great job," says First In Math Implementation Specialist, Nancy Kane, also participated in the call. "Principal Komins is such a good leader—it speaks volumes that he and his staff took time out of their busy schedules to be on the call and find a way to recognize these amazing children."

First In Math A Family Affair for 2020 Top Ten Champion

Justin O'Shea came from behind in the final days of the competition to claim the title of #1 Player, All Grades, in the First In Math® Online Program for the 2019-2020 school year—ten years to the day after his brother took the title in 2010!

2020 First In Math® Online Program Champion, All Grades, Justin O'Shea.

O'Shea, who attends St. Pius X School in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, will receive a Grand Prize in addition to his National All Star award. He also earned a Gold Star award last year, finishing ninth in the Rankings.

"For the First In Math strategy, I tried to be consistent," explains O'Shea. "I didn't play every day, but I tried to play most days." While his brother, James, used a different strategy—building a considerable cushion and leading the field for months—Justin's surge to the top came late, passing Rishi Patel from McNeill Elementary School in Texas with only hours left in the competition.

In addition to First In Math, O’Shea is busy with other activities. "I was captain of our Reading Olympics team at school this year," says the energetic fifth-grader. "My favorite books are the Harry Potter series. American History also interests me because I like learning about those who shaped our country." When not playing basketball and soccer, O'Shea enjoys going to the Jersey Shore with his family and playing on the beach with his brothers.

"Justin is continuing an incredible legacy for many Archdiocese of Philadelphia students started by his own brother James in 2010. During the past decade, AOPS students have captured the #1 national title in eight of ten years," says First In Math Creator, Robert Sun. "I am so proud of the focus and dedication he maintained all year long, even through school closures."

For more information on the First in Math competition, visit View the 2019-2020 Winners.

2019-2020 Top Ten Rankings Competition Special Announcement

This year more than ever, students, educators and parents are doing amazing things under unusual circumstances. We could not be prouder to have you as part of the First In Math family.

The National Top Ten contest is still ongoing, but as the COVID-19 crisis continues all 2019-2020 Awards will be presented online—physical awards, plaques, trophies, letters or certificates will not be shipped to schools. This decision was made with everyone's safety in mind.

As always, Top Ten category winners will be recognized on our National Top Ten page, as well as the FIM Hall of Fame, the Dr. Lola J. May Award, and the FIM NEWS pages. Contest ends April 30, 3pm Eastern time.

Thank you, and stay safe!

First In Math Distance Learning Initiative in India

Reported by Monica Patel, CEO, First In Math India Pvt. Ltd.

Monica Patel, CEO, First In Math India Pvt. Ltd., with several students.

On March 10, it was clear that school closures in India, US, and the UK were going into effect sooner rather than later due to the worldwide COVID-19 crisis. First In Math® founder & inventor, Robert Sun, launched a global online initiative to ensure schools could continue to engage students with mathematics. Lack of math practice = loss of skill retention & increasing fluency gap. That happens when a subject has spiraling curriculum.

It has been deeply satisfying to see schools come on board quickly to prevent 'math-skills slide'. Since March, more than 60,000 new classrooms have registered.

The important question is, "are they doing the math"?

YES, and then some! The number of problems solved since closure is 153,648,203 & rising. We are blessed to serve children from rural Jharkhand to elite academies in Pennsylvania, to schools of New York City. Here is what I have learned:

1. First In Math's Personalized Learning works for any child, at any skill level, from any socio-economic background, in any country.

2. The power of math does not differentiate a race, culture, country, color, or income.

3. A successful program needs to be rooted in scientific design and positive psychology, and to be supported by school leaders, principals and educators.

See More Articles in the News Archive


CLEVER Blog: First In Math is Practice Made Perfect
by Natasha Husein | February 2019

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