Stratford Press

Adding up to WOW!

Toko 12-year-old is times table rock star

- Ilona Hanne

When it comes to multiplica­tion and division, 12-year-old Sam Orwin is a rock star and he has the numbers to prove it. Last week, the Taranaki youngster took out the top spot in a national times tables competitio­n, getting an incredible 21,841 multiplica­tion and division questions right over just three hours. That’s (checks calculator) an average of 121 questions answered correctly a minute.

The online competitio­n is part of the Times Tables Rock Stars (TTRS) programme, designed by former UK maths teacher Bruno Reddy over a decade ago to lift the numeracy levels of primary and secondary students nationwide, and is now used throughout the world. With a website along with printed worksheets, YouTube videos and a series of fun, quick-fire games, the

TTRS programme doesn’t just help improve students’ numeracy skills but gets them excited about it.

“It’s fun and I like times tables, they make sense. I enjoy getting faster and faster at it and seeing my score go up,” says Sam.

Sam loves the challenge of the competitio­n, which he first entered a couple of years ago. “We did it at my school in Devon in the UK, and I enjoyed it. I got the top marks in my school when I did it then.”

When he, his parents and younger sister Jess, 10, moved to Toko a couple of years ago, he asked his teacher at Toko School if they could enter the challenge here. “The competitio­n has different sections, so there is one for New Zealand schools to enter. The school said yes, and we had a few classes enter.”

The New Zealand Rocks competitio­n ran over three days last week. Each student is allowed to spend a maximum of only an hour a day having a go, meaning their final score is based on a maximum of three hours of answering the math questions. Once logged in, each student faces a barrage of quick-fire multiplica­tion and division questions based on the 1-12 times tables. As soon as they answer one, the next question appears on the screen, meaning entrants have to be quick at reading and typing as well as maths.

Sam says he was excited to build up his score each day, but hadn’t expected to see his name at the very top of the individual leader board at the end of the competitio­n. “I was having fun and trying to be as fast as possible, but didn’t think I was going to end up top of New Zealand.”

In total, 4586 individual students competed in this year’s challenge, and Sam says he would encourage anyone who enjoys challengin­g themselves to give it a go next year.

“It’s great, and you can use the website all the time, not just in the competitio­n, so you can practise and try to beat your own personal best.”

Just maybe don’t expect to beat Sam’s personal best, which sits at 139 correct answers in 60 seconds!

 ?? Photo / Ilona Hanne ?? Sam Orwin, who is top of the national table when it comes to times tables, holding a print-out of the final leader board.
Photo / Ilona Hanne Sam Orwin, who is top of the national table when it comes to times tables, holding a print-out of the final leader board.

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