Math Pentathlon

We would like to invite you and your kids to get involved in our annual Fox Chapel Area Math Pentathlon Games. All FCASD K-5 students are eligible and encouraged to participate.

What is Math Pentathlon?
This six-week afterschool program strengthens basic math concepts and skills through game play that integrates spatial, computational, and logical reasoning. Math Pentathlon is a wonderful way to build gamesmanship and math skills in a fun and structured environment. Any child who enjoys board games, learning, and competing with friends will love Math Pen!

When does the Math Pentathlon group meet?
We convene six practice sessions directly after school on consecutive Thursday afternoons starting January 30th through March 5th, culminating with a district-wide Game Day on Saturday, March 7th at Dorseyville Middle School.

What kind of games do the kids play?
Students will learn three games over six weeks. Games are divided among three age groups in order to be developmentally appropriate. Division 1 consists of K-1 students and has games that emphasize geometry, addition, and strategy. Division 2 offers games for grades 2 – 3 that focus more on logic, spatial awareness, and arithmetic. Division 3 targets grades 4 – 5 with games that address problem-solving with multiple variables. Games are rotated each year, so that students in the same division are applying new skills.

Is there a parental commitment?
This program is one of O’Hara’s biggest, so it is only possible through the support of parent volunteers. As such, it is expected that each participating student has a parent volunteer commit to helping out for at least two Thursday practice sessions from 3:30 to 4:45 pm. Volunteering consists of helping hand out and collect game materials and answering student questions when the Mathletes are practicing. Helpful hint: two sessions in a row is often preferable for volunteers since we play each game for two weeks, so they would only need to learn one game.

Are clearances required to volunteer?
YES, ALL parent volunteers are REQUIRED to have clearances on file with the District. A badge will be pre-printed for you on the weeks that you sign up to volunteer.

How can I learn the game before I volunteer?
Game rules will be emailed out to all parents each week. Also, interested parents can attend an informal game training session at 3pm at O’Hara each Thursday before the practices. If you care to learn all the games in one sitting, the district Math Pen organizers will host a Game Learning session on Saturday, January 11th at Cooper Siegel Library from 10 am – 1 pm (1 hour per Division). If interested, please contact Danielle Ramirez for more information (contact below).

What does a Grade Leader do?
The program cannot run without grade leaders. A grade leader is in charge of taking attendance, introducing game rules and strategy to all Mathletes in that grade (~20 students), and checking students out at pick up. It may be hard to volunteer all six weeks, so if three parents are able to commit to two weeks in a row, each of them would be responsible for teaching just one game. Please consider checking the Grade Leader box on the registration form.

What is Game Day?
Game Day is a one-morning commitment, in which our O’Hara Mathletes will play against those from Fairview, Hartwood, and Kerr Elementary Schools. Students wear their O’Hara Math Pen shirts and are randomly matched with students in a different school shirt. There is not a schoolwide winner; rather, it is an opportunity for students to apply all the strategies and rules they have practiced over the six weeks in a slightly more formal setting. The event is concluded with an award ceremony in which each student receives his or her medal from a principal and shakes hands/paws with the Fox Chapel Fox. Although Game Day is not required, it is a lot of fun and gives the kids a great sense of camaraderie and achievement.

May I volunteer on Game Day?
Yes, we welcome parents with clearances to volunteer on Game Day, primarily as ushers for the Mathletes. FYI, non-volunteers may not watch the “competition” and are asked to wait outside the cafeteria until the Mathletes have completed their games.

What does it cost to participate?
The registration fee is $25, which covers the expense of game materials, t-shirts, and medals. If you would like assistance with the fee, scholarship funds are available through Nurse Grove and Mrs. Squeglia.

How can I register?
Complete the registration form at and submit payment by FRIDAY, JANUARY 17TH, 2019. NO LATE REGISTRATIONS will be accepted because of the need to purchase materials and plan adequately for such a large program.

What time is pick up?
Parents and guardians of participating students should arrange to have their children picked up promptly at 4:45 pm.  All designated individuals will need to show ID to sign out a child. We appreciate your cooperation with these procedures.

Still have questions?
Questions may be directed to Danielle Ramirez, Math Pentathlon Chair, at 202-247-7045 or

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