Academic Challenge CupGRC's Academic Challenge Cup (ACC) engages more than 1,500 academically talented students, grades 2-8, in weeks of preparatory skill-building and provides them with opportunities to participate in friendly competitions in creative problem-solving, linguistic and math challenges. Awards are given for creative team names and costumes as well as for teams who "rise to a level of excellence."
Parents, Teachers Praise Outcomes
Gifted Resource Council has sponsored Academic Challenge Cup for 28 years. The 2012 competitions occurred over four days on the campus of Washington University and four days at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Students attended from 93 different schools (public, private and parochial) and 17 school districts throughout the metropolitan area.
Creative Convention Jumpstarts Early Learning
Students in grades 2-3 work together to design and build a special project—such as a school of the future, a fitness center or a peace monument—that is revealed to them only on the day of the competition. They work in teams of five, earning points for both their creativity and for how well they work cooperatively. At the conclusion of the event, each team formally presents its creation and explains how they designed it to their parents and teachers.
"George participated in his first Creative Convention, and he enjoyed it a lot," said Allison Harris about her 8-year-old son. "It gave him a chance to work with his peers in a thought-provoking environment. It is a good way to improve both self-confidence and teamwork skills. He looks forward to returning next year."
Harris went on to say that both George and her 10-year-old daughter Corbett have participated in the Saturday Learning Labs offered by GRC. "They enjoyed the enrichment provided by the courses, especially the unique scientific perspective of the husband and wife team."
Michelle Braungardt, a teacher at MOSAICS Academy in the Parkway School District, describes the long-term benefits of Creative Convention. "I believe it's important to teach students creative thinking and problem solving," she said. "After all, this is what makes the world go around! The United States has been the leader in creativity and innovation. We want to keep this competitive edge, as it's important to our economy and builds character. To accomplish this, we must build this kind of thinking into our daily school curriculum at every level. Not to mention, it's these creative tasks that keep our students interested in school and knowing their ideas are a valuable renewable resource!"
Strengthening Verbal Skills
"What I like most about LinguiSHTIK is that it takes the focus off of technology in terms of spelling, grammar, word usage, etc.," said Braungardt. "So many of our students do not know how to spell or write complex sentences due to the 'overuse' of technology. I'm sure some may argue this point! However, LinguiSHTIK brings these important skills back to the classroom by inspiring teachers to continue teaching these skills and encouraging students to learn them!"
"What a fabulous opportunity for my 9-year-old to compete and expand her intellectual potential in a friendly competition," said Christine A. Sigman, MD. "Caitlynn was so proud to be a part of LinguiSHTIK, and I was so excited to watch her confidence grow."
A Wealth of Teaching Opportunities
Equations inspires students to learn math skills that they would not be exposed to in the course of their regular school classes. "The game of Equations provides a wealth of opportunity for teaching numerous math related concepts and problem solving skills, both critical and creative," said Braungardt who has been bringing teams to compete in Equations for 15 years.
"Game play 'forces' students to learn basic to advanced mathematical concepts such as computation, order of operation, integers, exponentiation, and roots. Embedded within the conceptual learning is the problem solving, which is an essential math skill. The game inspires students to apply strategic thinking and problem solving, not only because of the competitive nature, but also because most gifted students love the challenge of 'problem development'. The competitions hosted by GRC are like 'icing on the cake'! They offer a means for students to apply their learning outside the boundaries of the classroom to a real event and provide a means of encouragement to achieve at high levels! In the past, I have used the game as the framework of my math curriculum planning for gifted students."
Enjoying Academic Gains
"The competition is a guise under which I teach students about powers, roots, team work and problem solving," said Melissa Hill, a teacher at Rockwood's Center for Creative Learning. "The kids love it. I am excited in class and at the competition because their excitement is infectious. When it comes time for students to determine if they'd like to participate in the competition, I don't push. This year, 39 students signed up. The number is tremendously large, but I am glad to provide my students with an opportunity to practice math."
"Side benefits abound, as well," Hill continued. "For a month and a half, I offer once-a-week after school practices for students who sign up to compete. My goal is for students within our own district to get to know each other since they will attend middle school together and may not have another chance to meet. The first few days of practice, the kids are uneasy and tentative around one another. I find this funny since I know them fairly well and never see them tentative. By the end of the month, they are jovial and LOUD at practices. By the time the actual competition comes around, the students are well-prepared and excited to fulfill their expectations and put their learning into action."
Parents Value Equations
"My third-grader, Karl, has been excitedly assembling his costume and counting down to the Equations Competition for weeks," said Sara Oswald, lab manager for the Sakiyama-Elbert engineering lab at Washington University that sponsors an on-campus "Moving and Shaking" Learning Lab for GRC middle school students each year.
"A couple of weeks ago, he pulled out paper and pencil to lecture me on how the Equations game works!" Oswald continued. "He was very positive about his day. He specifically said that he especially enjoyed the one game that he was scorekeeper, because it's a busy job and 'I love being busy!' He gleefully recounted to me how loudly he cheered when friends of his won awards. We look forward to next year."
"I think the experience was good for my son because he tends to be a deep thinker, so the game setting challenged him to stay focused and up to speed," she said. "I especially liked the emphasis on the team effort. I also enjoyed the chance to meet other parents to talk about the challenges - and the joys! - of our gifted kids. It was great to be in an environment that was so accepting and encouraging, and I could tell that even the hour that I was there was carefully structured with gifted talents/challenges in mind."
Another parent, Nancy Tice who also serves as a volunteer coach, adds, "I have sons in 6th and 4th grades who have each participated in Equations since 3rd grade. I also have a 1st grader who can't wait to compete when he is old enough! I think Equations teaches my boys that an after school activity can be fun and academic."
How Schools Prepare
"At Immacolata, Equations is a parent run, after school activity," said Tice. "Our students practice once a week from January until the competition. Each grade has one or more parent coaches and the younger grades have middle school students help. Each week we start practice with a lesson—either some game rules or math concepts—and spend the rest of the hour playing the game. Parent coaches and older students guide the younger students as necessary."
"One of my favorite parts of the Equations process at Immacolata is watching the older students teach the game to the younger students (and to the parent coaches)," Tice said. "This year four 7th graders stayed after school twice a week—once with other 7th and 8th graders for their own Equations practice and once for the 3rd grade practice. Watching the 7th graders coach the younger children was delightful—and the 3rd graders really respond to older children, especially after a full day at school with adult teachers. One 6th grader has done the same for two years in a row—with last year's 3rd graders...who are now this year's 4th graders. It's remarkable the dedication these students have to the game. Immacolata has been sending students to the Equations ACC for 15 years."
"We also have a post-Equations party after the Equations competition when we distribute ribbons to the top scorers at our school," she said. "Parents and siblings attend this party, and the entire cafeteria is filled with people cheering for the academic achievements of their friends."
Benefits of Socialization, Visiting College Campus
"I think some of the greatest benefits in addition to intellectual/skill building are socialization—both with friends from Immacolata at practice each week and with students from other schools," said Tice. I heard things like, 'You wouldn't believe the equation the student from Christ the King used!'"
"I love getting the students on a college campus—exposing them to what that might be like at a young age," she added. "This year a parent told me that the evening after her daughter competed in Equations the two of them had a long discussion about academic success and what the daughter would need to do in her academic career to be successful. It's hard initiating these kinds of conversations with 6th graders—Equations helps make that possible."
Academic Challenge Cup
More About Academic Challenge Cup and Rules
Creative Convention/LinguiSHTIK Registration Form
Equations Registration Form
Grades 3-8 - Washington University
Equations Registration Form
Grades 3-6 - UMSL
Official Equations Rules
Official LinguiSHTIK Rules
Competition Dates & Location