Detroit Public Schools recently held its first ever Mathematics Bee at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School. It was organized to instill and encourage a love for mathematics to budding DPS students. This event allowed for two divisions of competing students: 1st and 2nd graders and 3rd through 5th graders. There were three winners from each division and along with bragging rights the first place winner received a trophy as well as having a trophy presented to their home school to display in their trophy case.
The morning bee began with approximately 60 1st and 2nd grade competitors. Retiring Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts began the event by thanking the parents who attended telling them, “You make the difference. You are the first teacher.” He segued into a brief speech to these grade level students encouraging them to be proud of their accomplishments and reminding them of the importance of math in any career and in daily living. He wrapped up his message with, “Everybody on stage is already a winner. You started the competition.”
There were tense moments in the audience as each child was given 6 seconds to complete a one-step problem, example 6 + 8. They were able to read the problem from a projection board as well as hear the moderator verbally give them the problem. A panel of four judges determined if an answer was valid or invalid based on the ring of the buzzer. Many students answered on the ring and were allowed to continue to the next round.
By Round 4, the time limit was decreased to 4 seconds and soon there remained only two competitors, 2nd grader Kapre Quinnie and 1st grader Keely Hudson. Keely almost walked away with the title as Kapre answered a problem incorrectly. But Keely had to answer that problem and the following problem correctly. She did not and that put Kapre back in the competition answering a few more problems correctly and soon she won the competition.
The afternoon bee was held in the same fashion with approximately 80 students for grades 3 through 5. Their math problems were slightly more difficult as they were two-step multiplication/division and addition or subtraction, example 5×4-3. There was an initial 4 second time limit with many students leaving the stage at the 3 second time limit. Finally, 2 seconds were allowed for the Championship Round and Arianna Parham came in 1st place.
Parents, students, educators and other staff enjoyed the event. Ms. Johnson, 5th grade math teacher at Marquette and Kapre Quinnie’s coach stated, “We are very proud of the results. Kapre worked diligently to prepare for this event.”
Although most participants would walk away with a participation certificate, the most important benefit was the exposure. Ina McKee, parent of competitor Rayveon Mason from Holmes Elementary, stated, “I’m glad that she was able to come out and compete. I am very pleased with how it all came together.”
Morning Bee Winners
1st place, Kapre Quinnie, 2nd grader, Marquette Elementary School