Thursday, February 7, 2013

SBU hosts 700 area students for math contest

Southwest Baptist University News Release
Contact: Charlotte Marsch, Director of Marketing and Communications
(417) 328-1803 /

BOLIVAR, Mo. — Southwest Baptist University’s Mathematics Department hosted more than 700 elementary and middle school students in Bolivar Jan. 19 and 26 as they competed in a math contest that is designed to promote the enjoyment of math and help students prepare for bigger math competitions later in the school year.

“The MathCounts competition is in February, and we are a regional host site for the Missouri Council of Teachers of Mathematics competition in April,” said Dr. Kevin Hopkins, chair of the SBU Mathematics Department. “While those competitions limit the number of students who can participate at each grade level, this competition that we organize each year in January allows everyone to participate. We also provide more immediate feedback with the tests, making the event a better learning experience for the students.”

The competition for students in third through eighth grades included 704 students from 48 schools from Kansas City, Carthage, Dallas County, Fairview, Fordland, Greenwood Lab School, Neosho, Nevada, School of the Osage, St. Lawrence Catholic School, Summit Prep, Thomas Jefferson, Aurora, Bolivar, Branson, Camdenton, Oak Ridge, Nixa, Springfield, Joplin, Lamar, Logan-Rogersville, Marshfield, Rolla and Wheaton.

“The students who excel in mathematics get very few opportunities to shine in a sports town,” said Lori Herring with Marshfield Schools. “The contest at SBU offers a venue for math enthusiasts to ‘shine.’” Her students said the contest was a fun way to learn math concepts that would not have reached yet in the classroom.

Third- and fourth-graders complete individual tests in concepts and problem-solving. Fifth- and sixth-grade students compete in those tests, as well as a team test. Seventh- and eighth-grade students complete the two individual tests, as well as a test formatted similarly to the MathCounts program and a team competition.

“The Southwest Baptist University mathematic's staff, along with SBU mathematics majors and Dr. Hopkin's family, does an excellent job of putting together this contest,” said Charles McCalla, who brings a group of students from Kansas City each year. “Every time a student takes a timed test it is an excellent opportunity to test their skills and improve on their test-taking skills. Whether they win or lose in the competition I believe every student is a winner in that they have learned test-taking skills and they get an evaluation where their mathematics skills are in relation to other students in this area.”

The program also introduces young students to the atmosphere of a college campus. Beth Grabowski, gifted education instructor at Bolivar Intermediate School, said her youngest students enjoyed eating ice cream while eating lunch in the University’s cafeteria and others expressed excitement about the competition and being on the SBU campus.

“One third-grader said, ‘I was going to go to another college, but now I think I might come to SBU,’” she said. “And another, on finding out his picture would be in the newspaper after the school awards assembly, said, ‘We are going to be famous!’”

About 10 SBU students assisted with grading competition tests.

SBU will host a Missouri Council of Teachers of Mathematics regional competition April 13. Hopkins also will host three one-week Math Contest Camps for students entering fifth-12th grades this summer. For more information about either event, contact Hopkins at 328-1675 or Go to for more information about the camps.

Southwest Baptist University is a leader among private universities in truly integrating Christ-centered academic pursuits with comprehensive professional programs at an affordable price. At SBU, the faculty and staff create a caring, academic community to prepare students to be servant leaders in a global socity. For more information, visit