Middle-schoolers figure it out at KSU Math Bowl
by Lindsay Field
January 27, 2013 12:41 AM | 5009 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Several Cobb middle schools competed in this year’s Math Bowl at Kennesaw State University. Above: Harold Truong of Campbell Middle School works with his team to figure out one of the five math problems on Friday morning.<br>Staff/Todd Hull
Several Cobb middle schools competed in this year’s Math Bowl at Kennesaw State University. Above: Harold Truong of Campbell Middle School works with his team to figure out one of the five math problems on Friday morning.
Staff/Todd Hull
KENNESAW — Area middle school students say competing in math bowls has helped them not only improve their math skills but also learn the importance of teamwork.

Kennesaw State University hosted its second annual math bowl competition Friday for seventh- and eighth-grade students from Campbell, Griffin and Smitha middle schools in southeast Cobb. Griffin was the overall school winner this year.

“I like how we all work together, finish everything together and win together,” said Shivani Narine, who is an eighth-grader at Smitha.

This is her second year on the team, and she said she joined because math, fortunately, has always come easy for her.

Campbell seventh-grader Bianca Lopez said she, too, enjoys being on the team because “teamwork is a building block you need.”

“You also have a lot of fun in there because you get to see what all you know and meet new people,” she said.

Each school has approximately 20 students, or two 10-member teams, who work together for 45 minutes at a time trying to solve five problems in algebra, geometry or probability.

A math teacher at each school serves as the team coach, and this year’s coach at Campbell was Dave Stickle; for Griffin, Anthony Coley; and Smitha, Marci Nadeau.

“They work very well together, and there’s no egos,” Stickle said. “There’s no arguing, and that’s kind of uncommon for a group of middle school students, but I think the opportunity to work together to solve any problem is really what fascinates them and makes them keep coming back.”

Stickle said the teams make up a “pretty good mix” of students who are strong in math and need improvement.

“I would say that all of our students are hardworking students who do well in a math class,” Coley said.

“They want to know why they got it wrong when they miss it,” Nadeau added. “I think this part will help with Common Core, which will mean they’ll have to implement more real-world applications in their work.”

Coley also said the students are like teachers in that when explaining each problem to bowl judges, they must explain how their group arrived at its answers.

“They are given points for the detail, and the judges are not going to say, ‘What else?’” he added.

Laura Kelley, who works part-time with KSU to help administer a partnership grant between the Cobb Area 2 schools and the local university to make bowls like this happen, said the competition helps meet their goal to develop students’ math skills and make math seem fun.

Partnering with the university also allows students to tour the campus, meet professors who could possibly be their future teachers and get a feel of how math could be used after middle and high school.

“We want them to see themselves as a university student,” Kelley said. “We don’t want to wait until their junior year in high school. We want the idea (of college) planted in their minds early.”

Dr. Mary Garner, who has taught mathematics at KSU for about 15 years, helps coordinate the competition.

“I really enjoy the kids, and I also really enjoy working with the teachers,” she said.

“I teach future teachers and being able to work with the teachers and to know what these students have to do and what they’re engaged in, is really good for me professionally.”

Other awards at the competition were given to:

* Smitha seventh-grader Thompson Huynh and Smitha eighth-grader Kenrick Basdeo, who were the top individual scorers. Trophy awards were given to Griffin Team A and Griffin Team B for the seventh- and eighth-grade individual and problem solving competitions.

* The seventh-grade, second place winners for top scores were Michelle Patel, Campbell and Parth Shah, Rickla Stafford and Sophie Batista, all from Griffin.

* The eighth-grade, second place winners for top scores were Joseph Lee, Campbell, and Logan Bontrager, Griffin.
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