Tech hosts TiViTz Tournament for local elementary students

HOUGHTON – The Michigan Technological University basketball seasons may be over, but competition was still intense inside the Student Development Complex Wood Gym Monday.

More than 250 local fourth- through seventh-grade students competed in the annual TiViTz Tournament, a math-based competition, sponsored by Tech’s Center for Pre-College Outreach, the Western U.P. Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education, and the Copper Country Intermediate School District.

“It’s a good tool to turn kids on to math and get them excited and interested in math,” said Cody Kangas, associate director of the Center for Pre-College Outreach, who is in his sixth year helping with the event, which Tech has hosted since 2005.

“One in five adults in the United States right now doesn’t have the math competency of an eighth grader, or is at the math competency of an eighth grader,” he added. “We need to be doing something, and this is one small effort to help fix that.”

TiViTz ( is a board game that promotes problem solving and builds fluency in mathematical operations. It was developed by a group out of Ann Arbor, including co-inventor Kathryn Clark, who spent eight years on Tech’s Board of Control.

“She was instrumental in allowing us to implement the game and develop it in this area,” Kangas said. “It’s a mainstay. It’s a cornerstone of some of these teachers’ math curriculum.”

Dan Pertile, a fifth-grade teacher at Gordon G. Barkell Elementary School, brought 15 kids from his class to Monday’s competition, which involved 253 kids from seven schools across the CCISD.

“I don’t think you’ve ever seen a place with this many kids being so quiet, so they’re really focused and concentrated,” Pertile said as the competition reached the third and final round late Monday morning. “It’s nice teaching math out of the isolation of the classroom, the textbook, worksheets and paper and pencil. … Most teachers try to incorporate it into their classroom as often as possible.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s neat to see the kids competing against each other from the different school districts,” he added. “It’s a different feel for the kids to get out of the classroom and do something still education-related but still have fun at the same time.”

First-place winners in the competition are as follows:

Maxwell Weir from C-L-K Elementary School in fourth grade.

Dustin Keranen from C-L-K Elementary School in fifth grade.

Arianna Pugh from E.B. Holman School in sixth grade.

Bethany Foreman from Jeffers High School in seventh grade.

Awards were given out for students in each grade through fifth place. In the past, winners have been able to advance to statewide competition, but funding reductions have prevented that this year.