First In Math Big Bang Contest Winner

First In Math “Big Bang Contest” Winner

ERIE, PA—A Team of Erie Diocese fourth-graders at St. George’s School were the closest in their prediction of the exact moment when the total sticker count on the First In Math site would reach the one-billion-sticker mark, coming within seconds of the correct time of 12:24:00, May 31.

“We are all very excited to have won the First In Math Online Program’s Big Bang Contest,” says fourth-grade teacher and FIM Team Leader Sue Morgan. “In a letter I sent home to parents explaining the contest, I used the term ‘astronomical’ when estimating the chances to win,” says Morgan. “Maybe it was lucky that I used the term astronomical, since we are Team ASTRO76PA."


Students from Team Astro76pa are winners of the first-ever Big Bang contest. Inset: Justin Gavio points out the School’s name on the Team Leader Home Page News.

Each Team member receives a FIM drawstring backpack containing an autographed 24 Game, a FIM lanyard and special letter of recognition signed by FIM creator Robert Sun. Morgan receives a Kindle, and the school receives a set of nine 24 Game editions, a 24 Game Tournament Kit and all three Math Club kits—all autographed by Sun.

Sun engineered the Big Bang contest to give students an opportunity to apply math skills to a real-world situation. Many Team Leaders took advantage of this teaching opportunity, but perhaps none more aggressively than Rose Davidson at Washington Elementary in Pittsburgh, PA. 


They didn’t win, but members of Team Atom41pa had a party and watched the countdown to one billion!

“To make an educated guess for the contest, we worked as a class and then broke into groups,” explains Davidson.  “As a class, we collected data in 30-minute increments throughout an entire school day. Students analyzed data, looked for patterns, and then pinpointed an overall average sticker-count per hour.  We used the U.S. map to discuss time zones to determine when kids in all four time zones would/should be sleeping and not earning stickers.” 

Team ATOM41PA determined that during the school day, players earn approximately 200,000 stickers per hour. They also monitored activity throughout the evening.  “At the request of my students—and much to the displeasure of my husband—I got up at 1:00 am, 3:00 am, and 5:00 am to collect the overnight sticker increases,” chuckles Davidson. 

The next day, Davidson and the Team analyzed the evening and overnight data. “We concluded that few stickers were earned between midnight and 8:00 am, but once the East Coast students began school, the sticker count began to rise.” Finally, students worked in groups to illustrate their calculations and math thoughts onto a poster.  “We then voted on a group that we thought had the most logical estimate and calculations, and submitted our guess,” says Davidson.

“This was a great opportunity to engage all students in a real-life math situation! There was no better way to end the school year than to watch my fifth-graders utilize multiple strategies to solve a very challenging math problem!”

St. George’s Morgan agrees, adding that First In Math is an integral part of her math curriculum all year long. “We use it every day in class. We didn’t begin playing until November, and yet we have been the top Team in our Diocese for months. We start our day by reading the Total Sticker Count number to practice reading large numbers and place value. Then we check Player of the Day and play the Card of the Day. I use Bonus games to introduce current skills, but I can honestly say my students have used every component of the site this year. I ask them to spend at least 10 minutes on FIM for homework, and I do expect them to earn a few stickers, but they often come in having earned in excess of a hundred! The games truly motivate them, and I take on the role of cheerleader.”

“Kudos to all of the teachers and students who accepted this challenge,” says Sun. “They personify my optimism about the future of American education.”

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