Alexandria Intermediate School third grader Cole Johns and fourth grader Kaiden Adams compete in a semifinal match as everyone gathers around to watch. Kaiden won the match and finished second overall and Cole finished third for the multiplication tournament. Staff photo by John P. Cleary
Alexandria Intermediate School third grader Cole Johns and fourth grader Kaiden Adams compete in a semifinal match as everyone gathers around to watch. Kaiden won the match and finished second overall and Cole finished third for the multiplication tournament. Staff photo by John P. Cleary
ALEXANDRIA – The pressure was on Wednesday as Alexandria Intermediate School sixth grader Jacklynn Hosier, 12, waited for the last throw of the 12-sided dice.

The throw, which would let her know which numbers to multiply, was the one that made her the grand champion of the Multiplication Championship of Alexandria All Stars for a second year in a row. Being good at math, it probably wasn’t lost on her that she has won one-third of the tournaments in its six-year existence.

“I’m always nervous at the beginning, but then I have fun,” she said. “But I was actually really scared at the end. I felt I had more pressure on me.”

Jacklynn, who placed second the first two years she participated in the tournament, was one of about 300 students competing this year as their schoolmates looked on.

“I think it’s just a good way to keep getting better,” she said.

Laura Jean Rowe, who created the single-elimination tournament, agrees.

Students are sorted by grade level and then paired in a blind draw onto a bracket sheet. The students face off. The student who answers correctly first after the throw of the dice receives the point for that round.

Students play until the first one has won 25 rounds. All participants receive a T-shirt, but winners receive a trophy and a medal.

Rowe said she created the multiplication tournament while attending a basketball game. She noticed the fans’ enthusiasm, which started her thinking.

The tournament is intended to reinforce state standards in multiplication.

“I was thinking, ‘What can we do to get kids as excited about math as they are about sports?’”

she said. “We’re trying to give kids an incentive to practice their multiplication facts.”

Later, as Rowe watched NCAA basketball, the idea for the tournament started to solidify.

“It gave me the idea we could do something like that with brackets and multiplication,” she said.

The students compete voluntarily. The tournament has grown from 100 students the first year, Rowe said.

“That makes me feel really good,” she said. “I had a student tell me it was her favorite day of the year. They’re supporting each other in learning something important like math.”

In fact, Rowe said, the tournament has increased the coolness factor among the students of learning and understanding math in the school.

“Competition makes things fun for a lot of kids, she said.

Students from Alexandria-Monroe Jr.-Sr. High School serve as judges.

“We really like having the high school kids because these kids look up to them,” Rowe said.

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