NEW PALESTINE — To the rhythm of stomping feet and clapping hands, students from Brandywine Elementary school marched into the Sugar Creek Elementary gym with pencils sharpened, calculators charged and and erasers ready to go.
The group of students was just one of several teams representing 11 elementary schools from Hancock and Shelby Counties recently taking part in the 19th annual Math Academic Teams for Hoosiers (MATH) Bowl.
More than 8,200 students in grades, 4, 5 and 6 from across Indiana participated at 51 different sites during the event late last week.
Some 521 teams of up to 20 students each competed in three-person groups against the clock, testing their math skills by answering questions with their teammates.
Story continues below gallery
“Our team is awesome,” Brandywine Elementary School teacher Cindy Wilyard said. “We picked the team in December and have been practicing two days a week since January.”
The teams were set up into different classes, with blue and green classes including schools with sixth grade, while orange and red classes were for schools with no sixth grade.
The yellow class was designated for fourth-grade students only. That’s where Maxwell Intermediate students excelled and ended up placing first in the state with 27 correct answers.
“It was hard,” Maxwell’s Trey Smith said after finishing several problems.
It gets easier with experience, the students say.
“This will be my third year doing this,” said Alli Bowman, a sixth-grader at Greenfield Intermediate School. “Depending on what grade you are in, it’s not that bad.”
Her classmate, Parker Stanley, agreed and said M.A.T.H. Bowl is fun for students who are good with numbers.
“I’m pretty good at multiplying,” Parker said. “It’s a little bit challenging, but mostly, it’s a lot of fun.”
Kim Lewis, a fourth-grade teacher at GIS, said the students worked hard to prep for the contest.
“I think some of them were kind of nervous,” Lewis said. “Our strategy was just teaching them how to answer the questions during the time period.”
The extra-curricular activity meant no class time was used to prepare for the competition. That left students meeting before and after school to get ready for the contest.
LeeAnn Girolami, whose daughter, Natalie, a fourth-grader at Brandywine Elementary, said being part of the team was a good lesson for her youngster.
“She had to learn a lot of algebra, and they haven’t had a lot of that yet,” Girolami said. “We spent a lot of time working on it at home.”
The students were tested on state standards dealing with number sense, computation, algebra, functions and problem-solving.
“It’s really neat to see what these kids accomplish,” host principal Mark Kern said. “The contest takes the old spelling bee concept and takes it to the next level.”
He joked at how hard the contest questions actually were and admitted that only after some deep thinking was he able to solve some of the problems.
“I almost had to call Miles Hercamp, (New Palestine High School dean of students) to help me figure them out,” Kern said with a laugh.
Educators said the competition is good for the students because it takes a tough subject and makes it fun.
“It challenges them, and they get so excited about it,” Eastern Hancock Elementary teacher Julie Dickmander said. “It teaches them about teamwork and doing things together.”
New Palestine Elementary sixth-grader Ethan Haeberle said there is nothing like performing under pressure.
“I like it because when you get a problem right, done perfectly, it’s great,” Ethan said. “We love to crush the other schools.”
Team members of the schools with the highest scores in each of the five enrollment classes at each site were recognized with awards after the contest.
The competition is administered by the Indiana Association of School Principals Department of Student Programs with support from Purdue University. It is designed to emphasize the importance of mathematics to young students.
To see the complete list of how teams preformed statewide, visit iasp.org/dsp/academic/math.
About the bowl: The Math Academic Teams for Hoosiers (M.A.T.H. Bowl) gives more than 8,200 students in grades 4-6 an opportunity to test their math skills.
It is a team concept with no individual winners.
Each of the four rounds consists of three team members working on eight problems while competing against team members from other schools.
Each problem is read aloud and projected on a screen, then teams are given 30 to 60 seconds to work cooperatively to choose the right answer.
Which schools competed: From Hancock County: Greenfield Intermediate; Maxwell Intermediate; New Palestine Elementary; Sugar Creek Elementary; Brandywine Elementary; and Eastern Hancock.
From Shelby County: Triton Central Middle School; Coulston Elementary; Hendricks Elementary and Loper Elementary.
Maxwell Intermediate – scored 27
Sugar Creek Elementary – scored 22
Greenfield Intermediate School – scored 18
Maxwell Intermediate – scored 28
Greenfield Intermediate School – scored 26
Sugar Creek Elementary – scored 25
New Palestine Elementary – scored 24
Brandywine Elementary – scored 23