Wednesday, October 17 , 2018, 2:29 pm | Fair 78º


Student Essay: Memories of Math Superbowl Add Up

A past competitor reflects on his experience as his sister prepares for Thursday's event

Hundreds of “mathletes” will fill the Earl Warren Showgrounds from 8 a.m. to noon Thursday fired up to compete in the annual Santa Barbara County Math Superbowl.

Representing dozens of elementary schools from throughout the county, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders have been selected to represent their schools, proud to have earned a seat on their school’s team.

Taxpayers want and deserve a return on their investment. They want proof of the education that teachers provide. Parents want confirmation that students can compete in the international academic arena, where math and science success are the gold standard.

The talent displayed at Math Superbowls confirms that fourth-graders can do algebraic and complex word problems that challenge some adults. Their work proves kids want to learn and can perform high-level work. Their individual and collective math skills remind us of each child’s potential to achieve. The experience will continue to affect their lives in the coming years.

It was eight years ago, when I was in third grade, that my article was published about the Superbowl “Please Print All The Names.” I still remember the excitement to see the article in print.

As I watch my 10-year-old sister prepare for Thursday’s event, I remember how I felt when selected to be on Cold Spring School’s fourth-grade team, and on the day I took my seat at Earl Warren for the competition.

That experience is one I wish for every student. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. It matters that you’re there.

When Santa Barbara High School announced that Will Stark was one of its two National Merit finalists, I wasn’t surprised: He’s the guy from Goleta who won first place overall at the Superbowl when I was in fifth grade. He’s brilliant. When reading a recent article about a local tennis star, I remembered him from the Kellogg’s Math Team.

When auditioning for a bass player for our combo The Perfect Mix, we selected Sean Kim, who had been on the Washington team when I was in sixth grade. I knew he was disciplined, could deal with pressure under stress, was a performer and had involved parents.

It was great when starting seventh grade at Santa Barbara Junior High to be in classes with peers I had met or heard of at the Math Superbowl. Friendships created at Thursday’s event will continue to resurface and pay off.

This year at the Westmont College-sponsored Southern California Math Bowl, seven of eight Santa Barbara High teammates had been on elementary school teams from Foothill, MUS, Crane, Washington, Monroe, Peabody, Cold Spring. Now, rather than compete against them, we worked together to bring back a second-place win for Santa Barbara High.

Our eighth teammate, who hadn’t competed at the elementary level, said he had been determined to earn a seat on a team before graduating high school. He had watched and learned during his elementary years, concluding, ‘“It’s not just being good at math; it’s both accuracy and speed. I figured out the formula and got on the team.”

The county’s Math Superbowl is expensive to put on, and is paid completely by volunteer sponsors. With budget cutbacks in many households, people want increased assurance of the effect of their donor dollars and volunteer hours.

Help support this annual event. It will have an impact now and in coming years on each participant’s life. Go cheer them on.

I’m happy for my sister because Thursday will have a positive impact on her life.

Hold your head high. Celebrate! You did it. You will continue to shine.

— Andrew Adams is a junior at Santa Barbara High School.

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