Math Bowl - Ten years and counting!


May 4, 2012, marked the tenth annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Elementary Math Bowl. This event, hosted by Seward Elementary School and sponsored by the Quest program, was conceived by quest facilitator, Agusta Lind, in her first year with the district. Ms. Lind wanted to create an elementary academic event that encouraged team building and strengthened problem solving skills. She explains,


“Many of the students I work with in the quest program are excellent at working independently, however when asked to work in a group dynamic they become frustrated. Most Quest students are strong minded and have a clear vision for the way they think problems should be approached and solved. During my first year in the district when I put students in a group they all went their own way, racing to come up with correct answer—it was much like trying to herd cats. I wanted students to have a toolbox of strategies to solve problems and to realize there are numerous ways to reach a solution and in many cases more than one correct answer." 

Towards that end, in the early years of the math bowl the use of multiple strategies and team behaviors earned points for teams. While these features are still a crucial part of the math bowl and help students do well, points are no longer awarded based entirely on their own merit. 

This year the Math Bowl had a surprise visit from Senator Lisa Murkowski. While visiting our school in Moose Pass earlier that morning, she learned the district Math Bowl was taking place. She wanted to see the students—especially the Moose Pass students who were participating in Math Bowl—and rearranged her schedule for a brief surprise visit to Seward Elementary.


 The math bowl is made up of three components: 

  • Math Skills problems that require a strong knowledge of basic math. Teams have 40 minutes to solve 60 problems.
  • Team Problems multi-step word problems. Teams have 40 minutes to solve 10 problems. Teamwork and problem solving strategies help teams do well in this component.
  • Lightning Round pits team against team in a head on competition of math knowledge and speed. This event is fast paced. Teams compete at the same time in a relay format.


The event is ever changing though the general format has remained the same. Every year Ms. Lind and her colleagues strive to make the math bowl go smoother, be more interactive, as well as remain challenging and fun for kids.  This year, David Thomas came on board and took over the lightning round component. Mr. Thomas revamped the questions adding a new vitality and depth to the round. 

“When I started the math bowl, I never imagined it would be going strong for a decade. I credit the success of this event to several persons: David Kingsland, Principal of Seward Elementary School whose support has been instrumental in the longevity of the event; the wonderful volunteers who step forward every year and work so hard to make everything flow; Quest Facilitators throughout the district who work with their students to prepare them for the event, arrange transportation and then spend the day cheering on their teams; and most importantly the students who enthusiastically participate in an all-day math extravaganza. It’s the kids who ask at the beginning of every school year, “When is math bowl?” that keep me doing this, Ms. Lind stated.


The 2011 Math Bowl established a new tradition, that of Honorary Team. The Honorary Team is a team of adults from the District Office. This team does not compete for awards, however their presence energizes students. Dr. Steve Atwater, Superintendent, and Bill Holt, school board member have been on the team for two years. Joining them this year was Lori Manion, Professional Development Coordinator and Doris Cannon, Elementary Education Director and K-12 Curriculum Director. 

Dr. Atwater commented, “Once again I was impressed by our students and their spirited participation in this year’s math bowl.  My hat goes off to all of our teachers and volunteers for making this annual event such a success.”

There were 52 teams competing in the 2012 KBSD Elementary Math Bowl, this was an all-time high.  Students from the following schools were in attendance:


Chapman Elementary School

Fireweed Academy

K-Beach Elementary

Kaleidoscope School for Arts and Science

Moose Pass School

Mountain View Elementary

Nikiski North Star Elementary

Nikolaevsk School

Redoubt Elementary

Seward Elementary

Soldotna Montessori

Sterling Elementary School

Tustumena Elementary


Coming in third place, overall, was Mental Monkeys, from West Homer Elementary School, coached by Shirlie Gribble and Suzanne Haines. Members of Mental Monkeys were Douglas Dean, Levi King, Marissa Geissler and Ali McCarron. 

Second place went to Fuzzy Lemon Squirrels from Sterling Elementary School, coached by Cathleen Rolph. The members of this team were Ethan Bott, Cora Davis, Jordan Merrill and Kami Martin. 


The Grand Champions, first place overall, from West Homer Elementary School, also coached by Shirlie Gribble and Suzanne Haines were Joe Ravin, Andie Sonnen, Clark bolin and Wynand Strydom, Welcome to Wump World

An award is given for Team Spirit. This award is earned by the team who displays enthusiasm, team work and a team theme. π Bakers from Seward Elementary, coached by Agusta Lind, received the Team Spirit Award. Members of this team dressed as cooks, wore chef hats, worked well together and cheered each other on. Team members included Maille Moriarty, Meghan Mullaly, Ian Beals, John Moriarty and Creeanna Whitcome.

Thank you to Ms. Lind for writing this story.


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