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of the
January 2004
Math Cats
Writing Contest:

The contest rules were:

Invent a new math craft, and write the step by step instructions to create the craft. Your math craft may use any of these supplies:

paper, cardboard, file folders, or other stiff papers
string, yarn, or thread
wire, pipe cleaners, or toothpicks
clay or another modeling compound
pencil, pen, or markers
ruler or straight edge

Your math craft should involve some aspect of math, such as symmetry, line segments, polygons, circles, 3D geometric shapes, coordinates, tessellation, or a repeating pattern.

Be sure that the math craft is your own idea!!

This contest idea was suggested by Kayla Piehler of New Jersey, age 11.
Thanks, Kayla!!!

First Place - "The Little Village of Shapes" - by Erika V.
Second Place - "Pencil Power" - by Ricky R.
Third Place - "Number City" - by Fausta S.
Fourth Place - "Circles, Squares, and Other Polygons" - by Kelly G.
Fifth Place - "Empire State Toothpick" - by Donald P.
Sixth Place - "Polygon Airport" - by Victor B.

Other Finalists

Who judged the contest?
We're helping a special friend of Math Cats, too!

* First Place:

The Little Village of Shapes
by Erika V.
grade 5, Philip G. Vroom Elementary School, Ms. Geis's class
Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S.


Multi-colored construction paper


1.   Draw and cut a sun. Glue it to the back of the cardboard.
2.   Draw and cut clouds. Glue them to the board.
3.   Draw and cut green squares to make the square house.
4.   Make a purple rectangle for the door.
5.   Draw and cut purple triangles to make the triangle house.
6.   Make a green rectangle for the door.
7.   Draw and cut red circles for the circle house.
8.   Cut a yellow circle for the door.
9.   Attach all three shaped houses to the board with tape and glue.


* Second Place:

Pencil Power
by Ricky R.
grade 5, Philip G. Vroom Elementary School, Ms. Geis's class
Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S.


2 packs of pencils
20 rubber bands


Make a square with 4 pencils lying flat. Connect each eraser with rubber bands. Attach one pencil standing upright to each corner. Attach 4 more pencils to create a square on top of that. Take 4 more pencils and attach at one end. Bring the ends of those together to create a point or triangular shape. Attach 3 more pencils above that to make the point or antenna of the building.


* Third Place:

Number City
by Fausta S.
grade 5, Philip G. Vroom Elementary School, Ms. Geis's class
Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S.


Colored construction paper


Place the bottom of a shoe box right side up in the lid to create a display.
Cut out and cover the inside of the box with sky blue construction paper for the sky.
Cut out and cover the bottom of the lid with green construction paper for grass.
Draw and cut out the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 in different colors.
Glue the numbers to the back of the box, but save a few for the front of the display.
Make sure to add clouds and a sun to the sky part.
Draw, cut and glue together construction paper houses with doors and windows.
Glue the houses to the lid so that they look 3-D.
Glue the remaining numbers so that they are free standing. Draw arms and legs and faces on them to look like number people.


* Fourth Place:

Circles, Squares, and Other Polygons
by Kelly G.
age 14, grade 8, Rocky Grove High School, Mr. Gavlik's class
Franklin, Pennsylvania, U.S.

1.   Take a brown paper bag and fold it in half any way you would like.
2.   Draw two shapes of your choice, one towards the bottom of the bag and one towards the top.
3.   Cut out the shapes. (Make sure the shapes stay connected.)
4.   Punch a hole on your shapes.
5.   Take a piece of yarn or string and put it through the hole and tie it.
6.   Take a hanger and tie all the shapes to it.
7.   Hang the hanger somewhere and enjoy.

Now you have a two-shape mobile. This is great for kids who are learning their shapes!


* Fifth Place:

Empire State Toothpick
by Donald P.
grade 5, Philip G. Vroom Elementary School, Ms. Geis's class
Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S.


1 box of toothpicks
1 sheet paper


1.   Using a pencil, make an outline of the building.
2.   Make a line of toothpicks standing vertically on the bottom. This will be the widest row.
3.   Glue the toothpicks to a sheet of paper, using lots of glue.
4.   Line up and glue the 2 remaining rows of toothpicks.
5.   Let dry completely before picking up.
6.   Now you can make word problems using the picture.

(How many toothpicks are there in all?? How many more toothpicks are in the bottom row than the top?)


* Sixth Place:

Polygon Airport
by Victor B.
grade 5, Philip G. Vroom Elementary School, Ms. Geis's class
Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S.


Construction paper


Use a square or rectangular shaped cardboard for the ground.
Use markers to color the runway and ground.
Use another piece of cardboard to cut out a long rectangle, large isosceles triangle, small isosceles triangle, and 1 rhombus.
Make two large rectangular towers with square roofs.
Make one long rectangular building.
Glue the long building in the middle of the two towers.
To assemble the plane, cut two slices in the center of the long rectangular cardboard that you cut before. Slide the large triangle inside the first slot, and the smaller triangle in the second. Use glue to keep them in place. These are the wings of the plane.

Finally, glue the rhombus to the rear top of the plane.
Don't glue the plane to the board so you can play with it and make it fly!


* Other Finalists

Symmetrical String
by Anika N.
age 8, grade 2, Coultrap School, Mrs. Terson's class,
Geneva, Illinois, U.S.

1.   First take about 70 - 90 feet of multi-colored yarn and cut out the colors individually.
2.   Sort them into piles of each color.
3.   Lay them out in a symmetrical pattern.

Soon you'll have symmetrical string! Have fun!

Cat 4 Math
by Narissa R.
age 8, grade 2, Joseph Martin Elementary School, Lisa Rowe's class,
Hinesville, Georgia, U.S.

1. You trace a fake cat from a magazine.
2. Then you put a number like 43 - in its right ear write 3, and in its left ear write 4.
3. Then you put a number like 63 and write it in his belly.
4. Then you add.
5. Then you write the anwser on his tail.

Kitty Cards
(no name)
age 8, grade 3, home-schooled, Springfield

1. First do your best drawing of a cat.
2. Second take a lot of paper and line it up behind the piece of paper that has the cat on it.
3. Have a parent help you cut along the line. See that way you don't have to cut out a bunch.
4. Have your Mommy put down some math problems on the cats.
5. Have Mom be the Math Cats host. Have her present each player and ask them a question from a Kitty Card.
6. Keep the score. The person with the highest score WINS.

Toothpick Prediction Game
by a human who wants to be a cat

Dear Math Cats,

I have an idea for a new math craft (or is it a math game? I can't decide)

What you will need:

- A pack of small toothpicks
- Bottled glue (Glue sticks will be very hard to use)
- Another person

What to do:

Glue four toothpicks together so that they form a square. Multiply the number of sides a cube has (6) by the number of toothpicks it takes to make one side (4) to see how many toothpicks are needed to make a cube. The answer is 24, so make a pile of 24 toothpicks. Do this with other 3-D shapes (Like pyramids) until you have several piles of toothpicks. Then have the other person come into the room.

Ask the person:

"Can you tell me which of these piles of toothpicks would make a cube?" Let the person count the toothpicks in each pile, but don't let them glue the toothpicks together or hold them together to see what shape they form.

Try this with the other shapes you made, too. Then let the other person make piles of toothpicks and you guess.

I hope you like my idea.

A human who wans to be a cat


* Who judged the contest?

* Evan Hiller of New Jersey, age 10
* Lydia Martin of New York, age 13
* Pete Martin of New York, age 15
* Emily P. of Maryland, age 9
* Rachel K. of Maryland, age 9
* Alessandra R. of Maryland, age 9

* Prizes

The first place prize is a Math Cats T-shirt. The first through sixth place entries receive special large Math Cats certificates, and the other finalist entries receive a smaller certificate.

* We're helping a special friend of Math Cats, too!

Wendy of Math Cats has made a donation to the IFOPA in honor of the kids who wrote the top three entries and in honor of Jasmin Floyd, a young friend of Math Cats. You can learn about this worthy cause on the main contest page.

back to the main contest page

© copyright 2004 -   by Wendy Petti of Math Cats.   All Rights Reserved.