A lot of people are daunted by math.

That’s not so for the 300 students from various Bakersfield City School District schools who took part Friday in the district’s 32nd annual Math Bowl.

The annual competition assembles the district’s brainiest fifth- and sixth-graders into teams and places them in a competition that stretches their knowledge of mathematics, challenges their problem-solving skills and requires them to work collaboratively with partners.

Most of all, it gives kids a goal to work toward and gets them excited about math, district officials said.

“This is something that motivates them,” said Hilda Wright, a district instructional specialist who helps organize the competition. “We’re trying to make it fun, because math should be fun.”

Students took part in a variety of math drills and quizzes Friday. One such test called the “Fantastic Flash” required students to answer two fast-paced math questions in 90 seconds before rotating to a new team member, Wright said.

Another test called the “Super Star” tasks one student to work independently on 50 standards-based problems.

And then there’s the word problems, which have become more prevalent in Common Core mathematics. Those problems allow students to visualize the concepts they’re learning and challenges them to understand the concepts behind basic mathematical operations, Wright said.

“With Common Core, it lends itself to more of an experience and environment where kids can be critical thinkers and gives the power back to them,” Wright said. “That’s what we want for 21st-century students. We want them to think critically and have communication and collaboration.”

That’s exactly what was taking place Friday during the Math Bowl.

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