By Joe Klemann
Over 500 schools around the state compete in Math Bowl, a math competition among elementary schools that includes 4th – 6th graders. While it does not receive all the accolades the sporting world provides, it is an equally demanding competition that requires quick decisions and fast calculating.
“Math Bowl is a program through the Indiana State Principals Association,” said team coach and HES sixth grade math teacher Paula Keesling. “The schools are placed in divisions based on enrollment and the grade level of the students on their teams. Hagerstown is in the Blue division because we have a large elementary enrollment and our team includes 6th graders. Further, since we are in the toughest division, we have chosen to only include 5th and 6th graders on our team.”
January 25 was the start of Math Bowl season with competition occurring every Thursday evening until the state regional final meet at the end of February. The participating teams were from Randolph Southern, Northside (Randolph Eastern), Willard (Randolph Central), Monroe Central, Cowan and Hagerstown.
“We had try-outs for the team the first of October and have been practicing every Tuesday after school since then,” added Keesling, who is in her ? year of Math Bowl. “It is considered and extra-curricular activity, so the rules state we cannot practice during the school day. We kept 17 students including our very dedicated alternate.”
Each competition is made up of 4 rounds with 8 questions each. Individual students only compete in 1 round and 3 students at a time are allowed to compete. After the 4th question in each round, substitutions are allowed. At the end of each round, the score for each team is displayed with the highest possible being 8 for any round. You will see the students raising their hands to indicate their answer was correct during the round so the audience knows how they are doing.
Neighboring school Cowan is continually a strong rival of Hagerstown. In 2017, both schools had the same number of final points at the Regional. This was again the case on the February 1st Math Bowl competition when Hagerstown tied for first place with Cowan. “We had two perfect rounds and improved our correct responses by 3,” said Keesling. “Last week we got 24 correct and last night it was 27. It was an awesome night!”
Keesling careful keeps track of how the team is doing so they can review anything they need to assess before the next meet. “The content of focus this year is algebraic thinking, so we have focused on that strand during practices. Most problems require multiple steps to complete, but students must submit their answers in 30, 45 or 60 seconds depending of the difficulty of the problem. We’re very proud of our team this year.”
Last Thursday, Hagerstown won again at Cowan. This time it was an outright win with the same six teams but the Tigers got three more problems correct than anyone else. The final scrimmage with be this Thursday at Monroe Central with the regional the following week at Randolph Southern.
By Joe Klemann