Mountain View Voice

News - August 31, 2012

Local tutoring center holds 'TriMathlon'

Winners of contest get Xbox, chance to be in national competition

by Nick Veronin

A local franchise of a national math tutoring organization is looking for sharp young boys and girls to go head to head in an arithmetic contest for the chance to win an Xbox Kinect and the chance to compete on a national stage.

The Mathnasium of Mountain View and Los Altos is calling out to all third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders with strong math skills to enter a TriMathlon, scheduled for Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the 2510 W. El Camino Real.

Kobad Bugwadia, owner and director of the tutoring center, says he's looking forward to the event, which he says works to get kids excited about math.

"I think math can be pretty cool," Bugwadia says, noting that, unfortunately, it is often associated with "long division and drudgery." By hosting a competition like this, he says he hopes kids will either develop an interest in math, or be more proud of their love for the subject.

Entrants will compete against grade-level peers on three math-oriented games: magic squares, a game in which the children are awarded for creating their own math problems; a counting game, which tests students' ability to count from any number to another number by a determined variable (such as counting from 50 to 10 by units of 3); and a mental math workout, where the kids must solve problems without pencil and paper.

Winners from each grade level will be awarded a Xbox Kinect — a Microsoft-designed video game console featuring games controlled by a device that captures human movement and translates it into directives for on-screen avatars. First-, second- and third-place winners will each be awarded medals. All participants get a certificate.

This is one of many TriMathlons being held across the country. If an entrant scores within the top three for his or her grade level nationwide, he or she will be entered into the national TriMathlon.

Of course, in addition to getting kids excited about math, the competition gives Bugwadia a chance to show off his Mathnasium to parents.

When Bugwadia is not running a math competition, he is often working as a tutor at his Mountain View Mathnasium, as well as the one he owns in Campbell. "The first thing we do is to connect math to many of the things the kids are learning," he said. "Visualization of the concepts is a very important technique that we use."

The Mathnasium focuses on bringing math off the page and out of the conceptual world and showing students how it can be applied in their daily lives. The technique is very effective in getting children more interested in math, he said, noting that it is easy to tell when he has gotten a student's attention: "I see their eyes light up."

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