By Michelle Caceres

FishHawk Creek Elementary fifth grade student Xander Bouton and the rest of Mrs. Marshall’s math bowl team, comprised of Cody Basquill, Bradley Hulett, Mychael Mercado and Emily Chung, rose to the challenge at a recent competition, placing first in the area five competition in Plant City.

In fact, including Stowers and Bevis, all three FishHawk elementary schools took the top spots in the competition.

There’s a whole lot of math going on in this community.

For Bouton, he said learning doesn’t stop when he leaves the classroom.

“I really like math so I after I finish my regular homework I will make up my own problems to solve based on what I learned in class as extra practice,” he said.

To earn a spot on the team, Bouton and his classmates took a pre-qualifying test at the school. The students with the top scores made the team, practicing on Thursdays leading up to the competition.

Math excellence doesn’t end in elementary school. At Randall Middle School its sixth grade team placed second, MJ2A (Pre-Algebra) team placed first and its Algebra team placed second. Individual winners included Sarah Cameron and Andrew Caceres.

These students, and anyone interested in being on the math bowl team, practiced weekly before school. The top scorers on a qualifying test determined the teams.

Hillsborough math league competitions are held in late fall and late spring of each school year.

Randall Principal Claire Mawinney said programs at the school give all students the opportunity to excel in mathematics. Its accelerated math program helps students move ahead one grade level. Students typically test in to this program at the end of fifth grade, and in sixth grade qualifying students take Pre-Algebra.

A new program at the school, S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Club, organized by diligent math teachers and parent volunteers, allows students to meet regularly in an informal environment and are challenged with opportunities to develop a deeper understanding of S.T.E.M. topics through bridge building, water tower competition, TiVitz, Legos, robotics and more.

“Students don’t have to be part of an accelerated math program to be a part of STEM,” she said. “Our goal is for all students to learn higher level math skills and apply them hands-on.”

For more information about the school district’s curriculum, visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us. For more information about Randall’s STEM club, visit www.randall.mysdhc.org.