Enrichment Activities, For Coaches and Teachers, For Parents, Resources

Twisted Tournament Practice Problem

Creating a Mind Sprint is all about balance. There needs to be right amount of challenge for the student’s grade level. However, the activity also has to be 10 minutes or less, including listening to the instructions. Sometimes, Creative Director Alison comes up with a fun problem, but it just won’t work within the confines of a Mind Sprint. This happened while developing Round Robin 2, and the logic problem “Twisted Tournament” had to be swapped out for the “Gone Fishin’” Mind Sprint.

But we didn’t want to see a good problem get left behind, so we’ve prepared it for you as an enrichment to use at your next USAT practice. It is set up like a Mind Sprint with verbal instructions to be read by a coach or parent, but solving the problem itself will likely take 30 minutes rather than the regular 10. This problem can be tackled by a team or an individual, so if you don’t hold regular practices for your team, it can still be a fun way to keep our Triathletes’ brains working between Meets.

The PDF below includes the instructions, the answers, a sheet of clues, and the worksheet your students will need to complete their task.

Have fun!

Twisted Tournament Practice Problem

Enrichment Activities, For Coaches and Teachers, For Kids, For Parents, P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box

Help Your Team Get the Most out of P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box (Practice Materials Inside!)

Hello parents, teams, and coaches!

The USAT team hopes you had a great Round Robin 2 last week. After the first Meet of the season, we provided some reflection questions about Mind Sprints. This time, we’d like to challenge the students to think critically about P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box and how they could improve next time. So, if you are looking for something to do to enhance team-building at your next practice, here are a few prompts to get the students talking.

  • Describe P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box skits you’ve done before. Can you remember the theme, characters you created, or favorite part of the skit?
  • If you could change any of the rules about P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box, what would you change?
  • What skills are needed in order to do well in a P.A.R.T.Y. challenge? Is there anything you can do outside of USAT competitions to hone those skills?
  • Did any of the prompts remind you of books you read or movies you saw?
  • If you could create your own P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box prompt, what would it be? How would you want to score it?
    • DIVE DEEPER: Why not give it a try? Give your students 30 minutes to design a P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box prompt and scoring rubric. If they want to try acting it out, too, all the better! If you need an example of a scoring rubric, check out our sample PARTY in a Box: Butterfly Effect

Do you have anything you want the USAT staff to know about Round Robin 2? Leave us a comment or email us at sarah@usacademictraithlon.com.

For Coaches and Teachers, For Parents

Winter Crafts for Your Creative Kid

Winter break will soon be upon us. Which means it’s a great time for winter crafts! So, if you’re looking for a fun activity to do with your Triathlete or a project to keep the kids engaged during a big family gathering, check out these fun winter-themed activities we found from happyhooligans.ca. There’s a range of activities for different age groups, and many projects use things you probably already have around the house.

25 Snowflake Crafts

Paper snowflakes, tissue paper snowflakes, craft stick snowflakes, and more! There are tons of creative snowflake crafts you can make no matter your age.

25 Snowman Crafts

In this collection, you’ll find 25 easy and adorable snowman crafts, oh-so-cute holiday treats, and unique snowman activities to keep the kids busy when the snow starts flying.

Build a Colored Ice Sculpture

This activity includes a little bit of art, a little bit of science, and a lot of fun for the whole group!

We’ll be taking our own winter break from blogging for the next two weeks. So from everyone on the US Academic Triathlon team, we wish you a Happy New Year!

For Coaches and Teachers, For Parents, Resources, Scoring

Why We Don’t Give Zeroes

If you’ve ever judged a P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box event or taken a look at the scoring guidelines on a challenge, you may have noticed there is no such thing as a zero in the rubric. Why? Because for many people, performing in front of an audience is the scariest thing they could be asked to do.

When Americans rank their greatest fears, “public speaking” consistently comes in high on the list. Approximately one in four adults report this fear. Sure, it makes sense to break into a sweat when faced with a tiger, but when we stand in front of a group of our peers? At least a quarter of us would rather face the tiger. Glossophobia – the technical term for fear of speaking in front of others – can be mild or paralyzing, and can come into effect with an audience of one or one hundred. This means that it can be difficult to talk to teachers or employers later in life, or it can be hard to make ourselves understood by a friend or partner.

Luckily, the younger you start taking these kinds of risks and being rewarded for them, the better shot you have at escaping this phobia. By giving a minimum point value to our teams for simply taking the risk of being in front of a crowd at all, USAT encourages even shy kids to stand up and be heard. We think it’s so valuable, in fact, that we make it mandatory for all competing team members to be seen during the performance.

Even though the idea of rewarding participation has come under fire lately, there are certain types of endeavors and certain age groups that benefit from this kind of unconditional encouragement. Creativity in all forms requires risk-taking. USAT offers a competitive format in order to give our teams something to strive for and ways to set specific, achievable goals. But we also structure the scoring of the program in a way to encourage positive risk-taking activities and create an environment of acceptance to help build the confidence of our participants that will carry them forward in their education, careers, and relationships to come.

Announcements, For Coaches and Teachers, For Hosts and Facilitators, For Parents

State Meet Is Postponed until May 12

Due to safety and travel concerns, the 2018 USAT State Competition has been rescheduled for May 12, 2018 at Woodbury Middle School (the location has not changed).
If your team registered for the State Meet, please confirm your team’s attendance at May 12 Competition by completing this registration confirmation form  no later than Saturday, April 21.
Over the 30+ years that USAT has existed, the State Competition has never been postponed. We know we can all work together to make this a smooth process – and completing the linked form will help staff reorganize for the later date.
Thank you, everyone, for your cooperation thus far. We look forward to seeing everyone in a month!