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May 15, 2023

AMS Student To Compete in NBA Math Hoops Global Championship

Derion Bonner, a 7th grader at Ames Middle School, has always been a fan of basketball, but he never imagined that it would lead him to the NBA Math Hoops Global Championship. When Bonner’s math teacher introduced the game to his class, he was immediately hooked. It was a game that combined his love of basketball with something he didn’t know he could love, math.

Bonner was chosen out of 206,000 students who have participated in the NBA Math Hoops curriculum to be a part of the global championships this June in New York City. Bonner was nominated for this honor by AMS math teacher, Jamie Smith. 

“In first getting to know Derion as a 6th grader it was evident right away that he had a major passion for athletics, especially the sport of basketball,” said Smith. “Derion has played travel basketball since he was younger and loves to talk about his favorite players in class.”

Unfortunately, Bonner did not initially share the same passion for mathematics. NBA Math Hoops is an educational program that combines basketball and math to teach students fundamental math skills in a fun and engaging way. In NBA Math Hoops, students solve math problems to gain points and advance their basketball players on the game board. The game incorporates real NBA players and teams, as well as game statistics and information, making it a fun way for students to learn math while also furthering their interest in basketball.

“The NBA Math hoops curriculum was a great way to fuel his competitive side and bridge the gap between basketball and math,” said Smith. “As he started to progress through the curriculum and play more games, you could see his confidence and abilities grow.”

Bonner first heard about NBA Math Hoops from his homeroom teacher in 6th grade, Katrina Williams. Williams participated in specialized training for this program and now shares those resources with other teachers at AMS.

“I didn’t really want to play it at first,” said Bonner. “So then I came in here with Mr. Smith and he also told me about it, so I really wanted to learn. Now I really like it.”

Bonner says he enjoyed math but didn’t feel like there was always a real-world application. NBA Math Hoops changed all of that. 

“It’s basketball, and I love basketball,” said Bonner. 

Recently, Bonner took a role of helping new learners as they came into the class this quarter who were perhaps reluctant to try new things. He took them under his wing to teach them NBA Math Hoops. 

“He is patient when explaining the concepts to them and is very knowledgeable about the nuances and strategies that come along with picking a team, examining percentages, and choosing the best shot given the circumstances,” said Smith. “They love to play the game, and it has made a huge difference in the classroom environment and energy.”

“I told them,” says Bonner, “it’s fun and it helps you with math. If you like basketball, you will like it. Just try it.” 

The program also includes in-person tournaments and events, where students can compete against one another and showcase their math and basketball skills. Through these events, students can build confidence and a sense of accomplishment as they also develop teamwork and leadership skills. Bonner will represent the Midwest Region in New York City starting June 21, 2023. When asked how he felt about this honor, he said, “Every time I think about it, I just get so excited. I just have a burst of happiness.” 

NBA Math Hoops is designed to be used in middle schools and is aligned with the Common Core State Standards for Math. It is used by educators to engage students in math and to help them build critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

“Overall, I think Derion is a fantastic candidate for the tournament in New York City,” said Smith.  “It would be something that would cement his love of basketball and mathematics.”

Good luck to Derion Bonner at the NBA Math Hoops Global Championships!