Competitions challenged studentsPublished 3:29pm Saturday, December 15, 2012
By David Wolff
Coordinator and Teacher of Gifted & Talented Education, Austin Public Schools
Many children enjoy the challenge of an academic competition. Competitions boost skills in specific content areas like geography, math and language arts while building mastery through practice and memorization. The Austin Public School District offers several opportunities for students to demonstrate their abilities throughout the year.
From December through February, students will have numerous opportunities to put their knowledge and abilities to the test in traditional competitions. In December, students in grades four through eight compete in the annual National Geographic Bee. This competition encourages students to demonstrate their knowledge of the national and global geography. In January, students in grades five through eight compete in the annual Scripps Spelling Bee and in February, students in grades three through six compete in the Community-Wide Competitive Science Fair.
Two competitions that are uniquely ‘Austin’ are Math Masters and The Richard Eberhart Poetry Contest. The Math Masters Competition was started in Austin back in the 1990s by Lewis Aase and Julia Espe, for students in grades five and six to challenge the students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills. The Math Masters Competition has expanded and is now held in cities all over Minnesota and Wisconsin with more than 5,000 students competing. The annual Richard Eberhart Poetry contest is for students in grades K-12. Eberhart grew up in Austin and became an acclaimed poet. The poetry contest had its humble beginnings in the classrooms of Austin, as students researched the life and works of Richard Eberhart and wrote original pieces of poetry. Many poems were sent to the family of Eberhart after his passing in 2005, which inspired the family to partner with the Austin Public School Foundation to fund the awards for the contest.
This year, the Eberhart Poetry finalists will be invited by the Austin Public Schools and the Friends of the Austin Public Library to an evening of poetry sharing by the students and a guest poet, Joyce Sutphen.
Many of the competitions for students involve volunteers and we are always looking for people to help. If you are interested in volunteering with any competition, please contact David Wolff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-460-1912.