Jasmine Herring, an Independence High senior, had only heard about competing at the Lee Webb Math Field Day from her siblings.
The event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID and went virtual last year. Math Field Day returned as an in-person event on Saturday at Cal State Bakersfield for its 50th year.
Herring said it was “interesting and fun” to compete in math with classmates at the university. It was also rewarding.
Herring, as well as Jayden Cox, Ruby Diaz and Rajneet Mann from Independence, won the team medley competition. They were one of the few Kern County high school teams to win at the event that included 11 schools and nearly 200 students. Clovis schools won many of the events.
There were two divisions, A and B, according to school size, A being for the larger schools. There was the varsity level for juniors and seniors and junior varsity level for freshmen and sophomores.
Independence won the team medley varsity A title. Team medley involves team collaboration to solve math problems while in a classroom. The teams are not notified of the results until the awards ceremony at the conclusion of the day.
Stockdale finished second in varsity A and junior varsity A divisions for the math bowl, which took place on stage at the Doré Theatre in the final competition.
“It was really amazing,” Herring said of Saturday’s competitions. “Even though we had a small group, we were able to participate in a lot of events.”
Herring also competed on stage for the math bowl with Cox, who is also a senior.
“I definitely feel more nervous to be onstage,” Cox said. “I feel like everyone is watching me and I have a time limit. But when I’m in the room for team medley it’s more fun and comfortable. You get to collaborate with the whole group.”
Lee Webb, 81, handed out trophies during the awards ceremony. Webb, who has been retired for more than 20 years, began teaching at CSUB in 1971, one year after CSUB’s very first day of classes. That same year, he started Math Field Day.
Webb said he suffered a massive heart attack about three weeks ago, resulting in two stents. He now has five stents, he said. He experienced some fatigue on Saturday, but otherwise, he said, felt fine.
“The darn thing is named after me,” he said after being asked why he wanted to attend Saturday. “It’s an honor to have that. I want to try to come as much as I can.”
Vernon Harper, the CSUB provost, introduced Webb as a founding faculty member of CSUB. Webb drew a loud ovation before speaking at the podium.
“This kind of event is very important for Bakersfield,” Webb said onstage. “Athletics get a lot of attention. Academics, we should get the same attention that they get and that’s what this is all about.”
Webb said the first years of Math Field Day were chaotic and sometimes ran into the evening. He said he hopes more schools and students will attend next year.
When he retired, David Gove, who is chairman of the CSUB mathematics department, took over as director of Math Field Day.
Gove said he worked late into the evening last week preparing questions for the competitions. He said that’s what usually takes place each year, and he’s already looking forward to doing it again next year.
“It was fantastic,” Gove said of the 50th Math Field Day. “I love seeing how happy it makes the kids.”