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Making it all add up

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | April 13, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Daniel Gunnerson was all smiles Monday at Dalton Elementary School.

He was handed a brand new iPod Touch, his prize for earning more points in four weeks than any other North Idaho student who competed in the Idaho Math Cup.

"What I noticed is something I think every teacher wants in a student - he was engaged in what he was doing, he was willing to work hard, he was foaming at the mouth," said Daniel's teacher, Justin Taylor. "He was eager to learn new concepts, and he would come to me, and he would say, 'Mr. Taylor, we're doing dividing decimals or dividing fractions. You need to teach me about this so I can score well on Apangea.'"

The contest was sponsored by Apangea Learning, a web-based supplemental math instruction program that is part of the Idaho Math Initiative.

As part of the initiative, Apangea provides assistance to students who struggle in math, as well as advanced opportunities to those students who excel.

"I think the hardest one was the ratio for me," Daniel said. "Then, we just learned about it and it made a lot more sense."

Apangea representative Marisa Alan said Daniel earned the fifth highest score in the state.

Of the 250 Idaho schools to participate, Dalton Elementary came in 23rd.

During the four-week contest, Idaho students spent 22,000 hours completing online math problems, 8,000 of those hours were spent before or after school hours or on weekends.

Daniel's mother, Sarah Gunnerson, said her son was on the computer every day.

Coming from a family of five, she said he had to find time when no one else was using it, usually from 6:30 a.m. until he left to get on the school bus each morning.

"He'd take that opportunity instead of watching TV," Sarah said. "He's determined."

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