MONROVIA, CA – Fifteen Monrovia Unified third-graders, sitting in a row and divided by blue partitions, quickly jotted down answers to math problems on whiteboards as they competed in the final rounds of the District’s inaugural Math Bee.

Mayflower Elementary student Yi Gao came out as the champion, outlasting two Monroe Elementary school students – second-place winner Cosette Menard and third-place winner Julie Shin – in the Pi Day event held March 14.

“He is a natural,” said George Gao, Yi’s father.

The Math Bee was staged in four rounds, each testing a different math skill such as using multiplication and division to identify missing products, factors, and terms. Questions were displayed on a screen in front of the students, while an announcer read the question aloud. Contestants had 60 seconds to write out their solutions.

There were only four contestants left by the end of the second round. Julie was eliminated in Round 4 and left Yi and Cosette to math it out. The duo kept pace for the final five questions in Round 4. The questions switched to multiple-step word problems in the overtime rounds. Yi prevailed on the second question.

All three received trophies and Target gift cards.

“The Math Bee created a competitiveness and excitement around mathematics for our students at a young age, showing that they can use their skills and knowledge in a fun way,” Monrovia Unified Board of Education President Terrence Williams said. “Congratulations to Yi and all of our students for challenging themselves in this competition.”

The Math Bee was sponsored by Swun Math, which has provided K-5 math instruction for Monrovia Unified since 2014. Three students from each of the five Monrovia Unified elementary schools participated in the District Math Bee, after winning the top spots in their school competitions.

“The inaugural Math Bee showcased our students’ enthusiasm for their education, as well as the strength of our school spirit,” Monrovia Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Katherine Thorossian said. “Monrovia Unified strives to provide unique opportunities for our students to demonstrate their learning, and I look forward to our future Math Bee competitions.”


032181_MONROVIA_MATHBEE1: Mayflower third-grader and Math Bee champion Yi Gao raises his marker, signifying that he’s solved a math question during the inaugural event on March 14.

032118_MONROVIA_MATHBEE1: Mayflower third-grader Yi Gao (bottom, left), and Monroe third-graders Cosette Menard and Julie Shin were the top three winners of Monrovia Unified’s inaugural Math Bee on March 14. Also pictured: Mayflower Principal Michelle Costarella (back, left) and Monroe Principal Dr. Lillian Jarvis.