NW Saturday Academy Semester Wrap-Up

Another successful semester of the NW Saturday Academy concluded this past weekend.  NW Saturday Academy is community-based out of school time enrichment program for DC Youth where students are introduced to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math topics.  Our spring unit included Scratch Programming and Russian-style math circles.  Here are some highlights from the second half of the semester.

National Math Festival

Over Spring Break, several of our students traveled with us as we visited the National Math Festival at the Washington Convention Center.  Students got a chance to watch many interesting math related presentations and engage in fun and stimulating activities, including a FIRST Tech Challenge robotics presentation.


FIRST robotics

 we heart math

Programming Racing Video Game

Instead of just playing video games, our students created their own! Watch as they learn to direct and control their sprites in an interactive way.

Board games

board game spring semester

Math class took a fun diversion one weekend when we played Wits and Wagers.  Wits & Wagers is an award-winning trivia game that lets you bet on anyone’s answer. So you can win by making educated guesses, by playing the odds, or by knowing the interests of your friends.  This game is an excellent way to introduce kids to thinking about estimation and probability.  Everyone had a blast.


In addition to programming their own video games, students had a chance to dabble into electronics by constructing their own game controller pad. The students used their custom built controllers to play a game of Pong.

Math Olympiad

Our students  ended the year by competing in our first Math Olympiad.  In a Math Olympiad, students compete to solve a series of increasingly difficult math logic questions.  Here is a sample of one of the early questions.

Four coins are placed in a row.  It is known that at least one of these coins is real, and at least one is counterfeit.  A counterfeit coin is lighter than a real coin.  It is also known that all the counterfeit coins are placed to the left of all the real coins.  Using a balance scale with two pans, find all the counterfeit coins in just one weighing.

Using only the information provided above, students had to orally explain the procedure for determining the nature of each of the four coins.   I was truly impressed by the students as they proposed solutions to the problems, refined them and articulated the improvements.

The competition was brisk and the students really dove into the challenge.  Congratulations to the winners from both age groups! I am sure they will enjoy their candy prizes.

What’s Next?

After a well-deserved summer break, NW Saturday Academy will be back at the start of next school year as we jump into the global FIRST LEGO League competition once more.  Enrollment for the fall is open, so if your child would be interested, sign up now.  Space is limited.

Thank you to Northminster Presbyterian Church for graciously opening their space to our program and to the DC Area group of Hitachi Consulting for serving as our major corporate sponsor this year. We also would like to thank our math instructor Mr. Alvin Sears and our friends at BooleanGirl.org for your faithfulness and tireless effort!  If Northern Virginia is accessible to you, check out one of their summer camps for your daughter.

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