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CAGL Kids have math in Palm of their hands

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Feature from The Conference Reporter, September-October 2003

Giving academic activities the kind of recognition and organizational framework usually reserved for athletics--teams, tournaments, and trophies--is one goal of the Chicago Academic Games League (CAGL), a program of the Schools Committee of HPKCC. The sports team analogy extends to the Invitational Weekend, when the teams of all the member schools have a "grand slam" tournament to give individuals and school teams the opportunity to match wits with one another.

[In 2003], 120 middle grand students attended the event, held May17-19, at the George Williams Educational Center of Aurora University in Williams Bay, WI.

As they arrived, students were given 2002's CAGL t-shirts to keep. During the weekend, students took to the "gaming tables" with enthusiasm as they tacked the rounds of Equations, a pre-algebra game, and a variation of it called Boggle.

Leading up to the big weekend are year-long math tournaments, which are held, in general, on the third saturday of the month in the U High cafeteria of the Laboratory School. According to one of the founders, Rita Yacker, "CAGL's overall purpose is to support an academic activity that engages kids in the middle grades and puts a new spin on math and its various operations. It rewards creative thinking, good sportsmanship, cooperation, and wholesome competition."

Monthly Competitions

An average of 100 students from eight schools join in the monthly competitions from October through April, and they are joined by their teachers and parents. Those schools participating include" Robert A. Black School, Jensen Scholastic Academy, Manierre School, Mason Intermediate School, Reavis Math and Science School, Ross Elementary School, Warren School, and Woodson North Intermediate School.

Having honed their skills throughout the year, the students' competitive spirits, as well as their school and team spirits, ran high at the Invitational. At the end of the weekend, certificates and trophies were given to teams and to individual top performers. Local winners include Chanel Campbell from Reavis, and Myron Crawford and Jonathan Riley from Woodson Intermediate School. Other winners from across the city included students from Ross Elementary and Manierre.

Creative Team Names

Team names are the creation of the players at the various schools--e.g. Manierre Numerical Navigators, Reavis Raiders, Mason Math Mystifiers, The Equation Crusaders, and Black (Robert A.) All-Stars. Over the years, team names have reflected the interests of elementary school children--from the names of action figures to sports vernacular to hilarious puns and jokes involving their school's name--all an indication of the fun that has an appropriate place in the process of learning math recreationally.