BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Athletics aren't the only way students can experience some friendly competition. On Friday, students from around Bakersfield gathered at Cato Middle School to give their brains a workout.
Speed was the name of the game at the Power Relay, one of the events that took place at the 36th annual Math Bowl. In the relay, students would run up to a desk, complete a math problem, and then run back to tag in a teammate.
"The competition aspect is a huge part of it," said 6th grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary Erin Kawiecki. "They are very excited. My students specifically are very competitive, and they were very excited about the competition part."
Rayshell Fambrough, Virtual Learning Coordinator in Curriculum and Instruction, says the goal of Math Bowl is to teach kids collaborative problem solving skills.
"When students get an opportunity to be a part of a team, to decide upon a goal and work together to meet that goal, great things happen, and students really get to show off the best of themselves, so any time we can do that in academia, we definitely should," said Fambrough.
The students who participated in the Math Bowl weren't just learning, but having fun as well. Jose Macias and the team from Wayside School won one of the relay events.
"When we won, over there, when I saw that he raised his hand, I got so excited when he did," said Macias.
Fambrough explained the relay event.
"During our traditional relay, we have 4 students each, and they go back to the problems and they try to solve them all and get them correct," said Fambrough. "There's such an excitement we have watching. We have their teams watching, the kids are going back and forth."
Mathlete and student Vanessa Quiroz says the Math Bowl was a little stressful, but mostly fun.
"Honestly, it's been a little bit stressful, fun, and honestly, just being here, knowing what I'm going to do, it's nice," said Quiroz.
Around 250 5th and 6th grade students representing 21 local schools participated in the Math Bowl, with mathletes competing in both individual and team events. At the end of the competition, there was an awards ceremony, where the educators expressed their gratitude for the event and for the celebration of learning it represents.
"They have all those opportunities for sports for a long time, all through their high school days, and I don't feel like there is enough opportunity for academics," said Kawiecki.
Fambrough lays out the similarities between academic and athletic competition, from the physical excitement to the community pride.
"Everybody's buzzing. The kids are jumping, they're happy, they've accomplished something. They worked towards something and that thing, again, is math. It's academic growth. It's cognitive struggle to gain cognitive strength, and it's really so fun and wonderful," said Fambrough. "It's pretty much the best day of the year."