The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 26, 2011

Taking on their problems

Popular PEGASYS program helps students with their math lessons

By Joe Malan, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — For the last nine years, “Math Mania” has been helping students solve their problems.

And for those nine years, Jan Martin and Chris Smith have been answering their questions.

Martin, Title 1 math teacher at Longfellow Middle School, and Smith, early childhood coordinator for Enid Public Schools, answer questions students call in to the PEGASYS program.

The show airs on community access television at 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the school year.

“It’s been very successful,” Martin said.

Smith calls the last nine years a “great ride.”

“One of the most exciting things is when we talk to someone who struggles with math, and they go on to be great at it, even a tutor,” Smith said.

A typical “Math Mania” show starts out with Martin and Smith taking questions from a few students. The students usually are in grade school, but there has been some middle school students in the past who have called.

The student will name the subject in which he or she is struggling or has questions about, and Martin and Smith will do example problems similar to what the student is attempting.

If the two have a new caller on the show, their special process is to write his or her name on a pingpong ball and add it to a hopper with other first-time callers’ pingpong balls.

At the end of the show, a ball is drawn and the student whose name is on the ball gets a prize.

Also at the conclusion of the show, Martin and Smith have a few Problems of the Week for students to try.

Viewers can do the math problems on a piece of paper, add their names on it and send them in to the show.

Students must show all of their work on the problem in order to have a chance at a prize.

PEGASYS Executive Director Wendy Quarles said the show has been and continues to be a success, thanks to the number of sponsors that have made its run possible.

This year, PEGASYS had to cut the show back from one hour to half an hour due to budget constraints.

It costs $45 to do one show, and there are about 75 shows each year.

Sponsors this year include Enid Rotary Club, OG&E Electric Services, Oklahoma Natural Gas, Security National Bank, Liberty Federal Savings Bank, Stan Brownlee, Enid Kiwanis  Club and private donors.

“It’s brought some kids out of their shells and brought them success in the classroom,” Quarles said of the show.