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of the
September 2003
Math Cats
Writing Contest:

The contest rules were:

Invent a game using any or all of these objects:

* 3 rubber bands
* 12 paper clips
* one coin

Explain the goal of the game, the rules, and the scoring.

Believe it or not, there were only 3 qualifying entries in this month's contest, so those three are the winners. Other entries included objects not on the list, such as dice. (Perhaps we should have made the rule clearer: "Invent a game using any or all of these objects and no others.")

One entry was so cute, even though it did not follow the contest rules, that we just had  to include it as an Honorable Mention winner.

First Place - "Scoop It Up"
Second Place - "Elastic Hockey"
Third Place - "Rubber Band Flip"
Honorable Mention - "The Creation of a Game"

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

* First Place:

Scoop It Up
by Morgan C.
age 9, grade 3, homeschooled, Terre Haute, Indiana, U.S.

Two player game

3 rubber bands
12 paper clips
1 quarter

Take one rubber band and wrap it around the quarter until tight. Insert one paper clip under the rubber band that is attached to the quarter.

The other two rubber bands.

Scatter the eleven paper clips between the two players. Use scooper to pick up paper clips. Each player gets three attempts to "scoop up" a paper clip with the scooper and put it in their "home". After all paper clips have been scooped, the player with the most paper clips in their "home" is the winner.

* Second Place:

Elastic Hockey
by Lindsay B.
age 11, grade 7, Cookstown Central Public School, Ms. Moxam's class,
Cookstown, Ontario, Canada


1 coin
3 rubber bands
3 paper clips

Set up: 
You set up by taking the paper clips and the elastics and placing them around a table.

Play: The first person will take the coin and use their fingers to flick the coin around. They try to hit one of the elastics, but not the paper clips. If they hit an elastic they get another turn but if they don`t the other person does. The other person tries to hit the paper clips but not the elastics. If they hit a paper clip they go again and if they don`t the first person goes.

Scoring: If the first person hits an elastic they get one point, but if they hit a paper clip the other person gets a point. If the second person hits a paper clip they get a point but if they hit an elastic the other person gets a point.

To win: The first person to reach 20 points wins!

* Third Place:

Rubber Band Flip
by Erika E.
age 9, grade 4, Carroll Lane Elementary School, Mrs. Mott's class,
Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.

First you guess will the coin land on heads or tails? Next if you get it right you get a paper clip. Aim and shoot the paper clip with a rubber band and try to hit the coin, but if you get it wrong Player 2 takes their turn. The goal is to hit the coin 5 times to win.

* Honorable Mention:

The Creation of a Game
by Madeline Pilato
age 9, grade 4, homeschooled,
New London, Connecticut, U.S.

     One day Ginger was lingering in her room. "Uh, homework," she said. "I'm supposed to make a game with chance and strategy. I know! I can get Penrose to help." Then she ran outside to get him.
     "Penrose, will you help me with my math homework?"
     "I thought you were a math cat?"
     "This is different," Ginger said. "I need to make a game with chance and strategy."
     "Oh," said Penrose.
     "Can we help?" asked Milky.
     "Yeah!" said Ginger. So they all went into Ginger's room and began.
     Then Milky said, "I know. We can have special things that are called Petcos, after the store down the street, and the game can be called Petco. Sort of like Scopa!"
     "Yeah, and there can be questions that are called Petsmarts after the store on Miquon Street," Ginger said.
     "And there can be multiple choice questions, yes and no questions, and answer yourself questions!" said Penrose.
     "And Petsmart specials where you can get a Petco if you answer correctly on your first try!" said Milky.
     "This sure goes quickly with lots of cats," Ginger said.
     Then Whiskers said, "Well, we have ideas, but the question is, what is the point of the game? Hint-hint?"
     Then Ginger said, "To try to get as many Petcos as possible."
     "And also, we need questions," said Cocoa.
     "Well then, let's start by making them," said Chocolate. "But first we need to know what kind of questions."
     "How about animal questions?" suggested Snowy.
     "OK," said Ginger.
     So Milky, who was the most skilled in writing, wrote questions (and answers). Here are some of them:

Q. Who wrote The Natural Cat?
A. Anita Frazier
B. John Bunyan
C. Natalie Wood

Q. What are the five different breeds of war dogs?
A. Doberman pinscher, German Shepherd, Giant Schnauzer, Farm Collie, Belgian Sheepdog.

Q. Do horses like sugar?
A. Yes

Q. What is a Panda's favorite food?
A. Bamboo

     Meanwhile, Whiskers and Ginger were making a board.
     "How long do you have to do this anyway," asked Cocoa?
     "Two weeks," said Ginger.
     "I thought it was fourteen days," said Penrose.
     "No. Two weeks," repeated Ginger.
     "Guys! It's the same thing!" exclaimed Milky.
     "Oh," said Ginger.
     Soon they got clay and began to make game pieces. And Ginger decided that the point of the game was to get the most points (a Petco was 10 points and a Petsmart was two). You got three tries for each card, but to get the two points for the Petsmart you needed to answer correctly on your first try. You also got 12 points for a Petsmart special if you answered correctly on your first try.
     The best part is, Ginger got an A+ for math.


* Who judged the contest?

* Pete Martin of New York, age 14
* Emily P., age 9

* Prizes

The first place prize is a Math Cats T-shirt. The first, second, and third place entries receive special large Math Cats certificates, and the Honorable Mention entry receives a smaller certificate.

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

In addition to the first prize and the certificates for the top 3 winners and the Honorable Mention entry, Wendy of Math Cats made a donation to the IFOPA in honor of the kids who wrote the top three entries and in honor of Jasmin Floyd, one of our judges. You can learn about this worthy cause on the main contest page.

back to the main contest page

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