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Students find smallest numbers in Knoxville

Brady Smith, a sixth-grader at West Valley Middle School, bested all comers recently to win the “Knoxville’s Smallest Number” mathematics contest sponsored by Dr. David Williams, an algebra tutor who lives and works in Knoxville’s Pond Gap community.

“I think the students had a lot of fun with this,” Williams said. “It is just a great way to get kids to realize this is actually practical, fun stuff.”

Williams encouraged participants to find creative numbers that applied to the Knoxville community.

Smith’s contest project included finding a way to get a thermometer at his home to reach its lowest calibration, -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Smith was among several West Valley Middle School pupils whose contest entries were encouraged by Lu Petrozzello, their math teacher.

The West Valley class had three of the five contest finalists, each of whom will receive a plaque and math-related games and puzzles as awards.

Elijah Teffeteller, a fifth-grader at East Knox Elementary School, tied for runner-up by computing “zero” mileage to Knoxville as measured from Market Square mall downtown.

Tying with Teffeteller was Drew Hampson, another West Valley sixth-grader, whose project relied on the “zero” value in the multiplication tables.

Arik Stuvek, a sixth-grader at Sacred Heart Cathedral School, 711 S. Northshore Drive, calculated a “.01 mileage marker to UPS” — good enough for third- place.

James Howanitz, also a West Valley Middle School sixth-grader, finished fourth with his project. Howanitz chose number one for the particular yard line at Neyland Stadium.

Williams, for years, had held annual “Math-mindedness” contests to demonstrate how math can be enjoyable and to reward bright students for their interest in his favorite subject.

The 15th Math-mindedness contest will be offered in Spring 2007. The theme is not yet set, but will be soon, Williams said.


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