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Digits and Dunks

Recently, 50 fifth-graders from two Peoria, Ill., elementary schools, Thomas Jefferson and Von Steuben, spent 90 minutes practicing with the Illinois Central College (ICC) men’s basketball squad. But despite all the free throws, dribbling and layups, it wasn’t a gym class. Instead, the kids were working to improve their math scores. For the second year running, the school district has teamed up with ICC in a program that uses basketball to show kids how math skills can be fun and useful, the Peoria Journal Star reports. The idea was conceived by Trish Guinee, the district’s math education coordinator, and Sue Sinclair, ICC’s athletic director. It’s not just fun and games on the court. The students each pick an ICC player to follow, and must record his stats over the course of the season — a chore that requires kids to flex their addition, subtraction, division and multiplication muscles. And during their on-court practice, the youngsters also kept records of their own performance. The project’s other goal is to give the players a chance to have a positive impact on the youngsters. Two players also visited the schools to give the children some insight into what it takes to be a college athlete. Sounds like a slam-dunk idea.

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