Photo: Steve Thurston
Correction (May 8, 1:30a.m.): Ben Dickson is a Tuckahoe Elementary School student.
Ben Dickson took home top individual honors at Arlington’s ninth annual MathDice competition Saturday morning. Over 130 students from all of Arlington’s elementary schools participated in this simple competition that uses a lot of basic-math smarts.
The game: roll two 12-sided dice and multiply them to get a target number. Roll three “scoring” dice and use those numbers in any combination of math functions to reach that target number.
Knowing your powers is key, Ben said.
The competition is timed, with judges making sure the students play fair. Others checked work and scores. Students, teachers and parents filled the multipurpose room of Carlin Springs Elementary.
Taylor Elementary School took home the top team prize. The rules are largely the same for teams, except that four team members plus two alternates compete together.
Anne Reynolds, a math teacher at Taylor Elementary, said her team of seven kids all participated individually, but only six played during the team competition.
“We are very proud of them. The kids worked hard … every Friday during lunch time they’ve been practicing,” she said. At her school all fifth graders play a MathDice competition earlier in the year so that everyone who wants to try has a shot at the team. The top six or seven players are chosen. They practice two or three months during lunch on Fridays.
“It’s a good long time that they practice,” Reynolds said.
One last area of competition is a team spirit award. That honor went to Barcroft Elementary.
That portion of the competition started as a fun aside, with the winners getting rubber chickens. But if you tell elementary schoolers that a rubber chicken is on the line, the competition gets fierce.
The team spirit competition has grown over the years, and this year featured acrobatics, songs, dances and other theatrics, said Bill Ritchie, president and co-founder of ThinkFun, an Alexandria game creator and manufacturer. His son, now grown, created MathDice when he was a pre-teen, Ritchie said.
The Optimist Club of Arlington, Virginia, ThinkFun and Arlington Public Schools sponsored the event.