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Contest builds creative thinkers

March 17, 2003|by BONNIE HELLUM BRECHBILL

When Jerry Gasperini wanted to create competitive games for students, he polled businesses and asked them what qualities they wanted in their work force.

"They wanted creative thinkers," Gasperini said. "They wanted people who could problem solve and have the interpersonal skills to work together as a team. These games reflect that."

Gasperini and Chuck Stewart are the brains behind the Brain Drain Games which were held Saturday at Chambersburg Area Middle School.

Eight years ago, Gasperini, a high school English teacher in Indiana, Pa., and Stewart, a retired physics teacher from Blairsville, Pa., were involved in competitive games with their students, but felt the scoring was too subjective. So they decided to create their own games, using objective scoring.

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Now, they promote the games at conferences for teachers of gifted students, and are kept busy many weekends putting on the games at schools in Pennsylvania and surrounding states.

Teams of third- through seventh-graders from the Chambersburg School District competed in two advanced planning challenges as part of the event. They had about two months to arrive at a solution to a problem, which they implemented at the games.

In the first such game, "Gone Fishin'," the students had to remove small plastic frogs from a cardboard ring surrounded by an 11-foot restricted area. One team used a dust pan duct-taped to a long wooden stick.

One student operated a long-handled scraper to push the frogs into the dustpan. The frogs then were swung over to a bucket outside the restricted area. Students were not permitted to touch the frogs. The team having the most frogs in the bucket at the end of 10 minutes won.

Another team tackled the problem by having two students stand on opposite sides of the restricted area, each holding one end of a long wooden pole. A tug on a string at one end of the pole opened and closed two small paddles in the center, which picked up the frogs.

For the "Slow Descent" competition, students made vehicles that slowly descended a 6-foot ramp. The winner was the vehicle that travelled the slowest, as long as its trip didn't last more than 10 minutes.

The teams played two other games - Eye Witness and Pongo - that were a surprise to them on the day of the competition.

Sponsors of the games were Nitterhouse Concrete Products, T.B. Woods Incorporated, Valley Quarries, Inc., and the Chambersburg chapter of the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education.

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