Second-graders at Grovetown Elementary School cheered on their classmates Tuesday in the same way that many adults cheer for their favorite college basketball team during March Madness.
The pupils' cheers were for math skills, not jump shots, but the annual basketball tournament is what inspired the math competition at the school.
"I was trying to think of some way to get kids excited about math, and then it hit me," said second-grade teacher Ken Johnson, who created Math March Madness at Grovetown Elementary. "Putting them into brackets and giving them something to achieve, someone to root for, got them excited."
Cameron Bonesteel, 8, walked away with the top prize as the 2009 Math March Madness Champion.
He defeated finalists Kaylah White, Austin Gleave and Gavin Williams in front of dozens of screaming classmates in the school's lunchroom.
The finalists competed head-to-head to come up with the quickest correct answer on a verbal test and on a timed written test.
To prepare, Cameron said he practiced math quizzes he downloaded on his computer. He intends to put his trophy on his bedroom dresser.
The contest started with the school's seven second-grade teachers giving their pupils math quizzes, Johnson said. The top nine finishers from each class, plus one additional entrant, took each other on each week to narrow the pool down to the four finalists.
Pupils had to correctly answer addition, subtraction, fraction and greater-than-or-less-than problems to move forward.
"We used problems based on the Georgia Performance Standards," Johnson said. "Basically, they were having fun studying for the (Criterion-Reference Competency Test) without even realizing it."
Principal Bob Boyd said he hopes to include other grades in the math contest next year.
"This year was kind of an experimental thing we can tinker with and improve upon for next year," he said.
"I'm hoping we can open it up to the whole school next year."
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