Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I've never been good at math. Just hearing the word equations makes me anxious. Thankfully, my children didn't inherit their math gene from me. In fact, they excel at math and had the great opportunity to participate in the annual U. City Equations Open held every winter at UCHS.

The 2014 Equations teams hard at work

Equations is a board game played with dice that have numerical digits and arithmetic operators (+, -, X, etc.) that are used to make "goal" equations. Competitors improve mathematics skills while having fun in the process.

The start of an equations round
This year was the 17th annual U. City Equations Open. Tom and Mary Ellen Campbell started the tournament and coordinated the first 12 Opens. Judy Maffitt has been chairing the Equations Open since 2010 and is already planning for the 2015 event.

Judy, a Scrum Master for AT&T, and her husband Dave, a software engineer at the Electronic Radiology Lab at Wash U, moved to U. City in 1987. Both of their children attended Flynn Park, McNair, Brittany Woods and UCHS. Their son Kevin is now 23 and a Wash U graduate, and daughter Zoe is 20 and a Junior at Truman State University.

It is committed parents, volunteers and residents like Judy and Dave that make U. City the special community we all enjoy.

UCHS PTO moms run the concessions

The district also hosts a practice session for first-time teams to hone their skills a few weeks prior to the open. In addition to providing an opportunity for students to practice their math, logic and strategy skills, the Open hosts schools from across the region at UCHS and raises approximately $1,000 for the UCHS PTO.

Flynn Park Fifth Grade Team
Like the USFIRST robotic teams in the school district, equations allows kids who may not participate in sports teams to belong to a team. There is only one other Equations event in St. Louis and that is The Gifted Resource (GRC) Council's Academic Challenge. The U. City Open provides Equations teams the opportunity to prepare for that event and gives parents and coaches an opportunity to watch as no spectators are allowed at the GRC event.

For teams that want to get started there is good information on the GRC web site. There are also workshops held every October and November for parents and teachers interested in learning about Equations - and starting their own teams.

Flynn Park Third Grade Teams
Over 300 students attend the Open annually. For many students and their parents it is the first time stepping foot in the beautifully, historic UCHS building and gymnasium. If your school doesn't field a team there is plenty of time to get started. After all, who doesn't love kids playing a math-based game?

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