APOLLO BEACH — Just about everyone has heard of the Super Bowl, the Outback Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. The Math Bowl? Not so much.
But the latter is a big deal to kids who enjoy solving word problems with numbers, like a team of five Apollo Beach Elementary School fifth-graders who placed first in Area 8 and third in a countywide competition called — you guessed it — Math Bowl 2014.
Ryan Katz, 10; Madeline Orr, 10; David Aussendorf, 11; Eric Jaehne, 11; and Seth Irwin, 11, brought home a trophy, framed certificate and bragging rights for finishing in the top three of eight teams representing all geographic areas in the school district.
The kids trained for months under the coaching of Al Roberts, a retired CPA who volunteers at the school.
“We teach them how to read the problem, to understand what is really being asked,” he said. “They learn that fast isn’t always good.”
Speed is definitely a factor, however. The students have to combine it and accuracy to come up with the right solution. At the Math Bowl, which was held March 25 at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, teams were given eight problems to solve, each within 5 minutes. Points were awarded based on how quickly they were able to turn in the right answer: 10 points for 1 minute, seven points for 2 minutes and so on.
Contestants can’t use calculators. They’re given a box of “tools” that includes things like geometric shapes, rulers, pattern blocks and a clock face.
The kids learn to work as a team and to read carefully while utilizing and improving their math and comprehension skills.
“It’s fun,” Madeline said. “I like solving the problems and going deeper into them.”
“We have to check each other’s work so we don’t make any errors,” Ryan said.
Then there’s that speed factor.
“Math is tricky and you have to do it fast before everyone else,” Seth said. “That makes it fun.”
Students of good character in first through fifth grade can participate, but they have to apply. About 60 per grade level try out.
“These students showed a great deal of perseverance and dedication to compete in the Math Bowl,” said teacher Michelle Friday.
“They worked hard and gave lots of effort. We’re so proud of them.”