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A few years ago, ALSAC found a formula for success: Caring + teaching = Math-A-Thon. Its success has been a foundation of hope for children with catastrophic diseases.
Built on the principle of helping teach children math skills while simultaneously showing them how to help those in need, Math-A-Thon has become one of the pillars that sustains St. Jude.
In the late 1970s, ALSAC approached schools to see whether they would be interested in raising funds for the hospital while helping their students develop math skills. The program, created for grades K-9, is offered free to schools across the United States.
After parents give permission for their children to participate, students obtain sponsors from family or friends (either on a price-per-problem basis or one-time donation). The students then complete their funbook by solving a variety of math problems such as hidden messages, puzzles and pure arithmetic operations.
Students can earn rewards for themselves and their schools depending on total funds collected. The top money raiser in each school can win a CD boom box. Students have the opportunity to win T-shirts, sport bags and free passes to Six Flags amusement parks.
Schools could receive prizes as well, ranging from a laminating machine to a laser printer and color scanner.
Math-A-Thon is an educationally sound program that reinforces basic math skills and supplements other learning skills by reinforcing the values of responsibility, self-discipline and an awareness of helping other children.
When the program was first rolled out in 1978, about 500 schools participated. Since then it has grown to more than 22,000 participating schools this past school year.
Many schools use the Math-A-Thon program as a primer for achievement and standardized tests.
Textbook publishers Holt, Rienhart and Winston, Creative Publications and Addison-Wesley contributed to the creation of Math-A-Thon Funbooks for each grade level.
This year, St. Jude is adding a little technology to its funbooks. Following on the heels of the successful launch of its Math-A-Thon Web site (www.mathathon.org), ALSAC will offer some children the chance to use a new interactive CD-ROM. The CD is filled with video clips, a tour of St. Jude, background about the fund-raiser and an interactive funbook containing hundreds of math problems
Teachers who have already used the CD-ROM said it has added a new dimension to the program. Victor Johantges, who teaches at Clear Creek Elementary School in Springboro, Ohio, said the CD helped Math-A-Thon appeal to older children as well as the younger ones. “It seemed to increase involvement this year,” he said. “The students loved the CD, and it created a stronger parent involvement.”
August - September 2002