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5th Graders Compete in Annual UOP Math Steeplechase

STOCKTON -- It might look like a sporting event, but 800 5th graders from schools across the region came to the University of the Pacific on Friday for the annual Math Steeplechase.

In the competition, students race against the clock and solve math problems.

"It's just a different type of competition because you're using your mind and not athletic ability," Vincent Shalvey student Brock Sell said.

The winners get to take home a shiny trophy back to their schools.

"So often, we only give trophies for athletics and the kids get so excited about the trophies," UOP assistant professor and Steeplechase organizer Greg Potter said.

Potter has been organizing the Steeplechase event for 14 years now. He says it introduces students to a new way of learning.

"Realize, well math isn't just what I see in the textbook. Math can be more and I can think about it differently," he told FOX40. "They'll have kids shine here that don't shine in the typical math environment."

But it's not just math. Classes rotate through different stations, doing science experiments.

"I've got to build a boat out of aluminum foil and put pennies in it and see if it can float," Port City Academy student Laila Smith said.

There was also a scavenger hunt on the UOP campus.

"I'm always amazed by how many kids who are from Stockton haven't stepped foot on this campus before," Potter said.

A few dozen college students, many of whom aspire to be teachers, helped guide the kids through each station.

"It gives me good practice with just working with kids and maybe like staying organized and structured," UOP student Emma Winkler said. "How excited they are about just coming and doing math problems, it's really exciting to see."