Saturday mornings take on a new meaning for hundreds of students in Kansas City, Kansas.  Middle and high-school students compete in the Ninth Annual Math Relays.  

School teams from a dozen schools race to solve math problems in algebra, geometry, number sense and data.

“I know you’d rather be home cleaning your bedroom,” Gloria Willis, president of the Kansas City, Kan., school board told the enthusiastic participants at the award ceremony following the Ninth Annual Math Relays.

The high school auditorium erupted with a collective groan of protest.

Kayla Garcia, 12, was happy to be with her classmates from Rosedale Middle School, even though it meant being ready to tackle a series of problems in algebra, geometry, “number sense” and data starting at 8:45 a.m.

The day started with rousing music from the Wyandotte High marching band before the kids fanned out to classrooms in the historic building.

“I like working with my teammates,” she said. “I like mostly algebra because it’s like a puzzle. I like puzzles.”

Garcia and several of her friends were sporting their team colors, a big green “R” emblazoned like the Superman emblem on their black T-shirts.

“It’s pretty great because we get to see schools compete on a friendly basis, but it’s also intense because we’re representing our school,” said Javier Ochoa, 13, another Rosedale middle schooler.

For the man who organized the event, which drew students from a dozen Kansas City, Kan., public schools, that enthusiasm was just the equation for future success in math.

“Our students take pride in doing something that’s normally taboo,” said Jarius Jones, a math and science teacher at F.L. Schlagle High School. “Saying you’re having fun participating in math was not cool to do in the past.”

 Continue reading about how a friendly math competition generates enthusiasm for future success in math.