Byron Center— Sixth graders were ready for the adventure to begin.
“Three, two, one… Go! And they are off like a herd of turtles!” announced science teacher Eric Krusniak into a microphone.
Equipped with maps and newly honed orienteering skills, students dashed from the steps in front of Nickels Intermediate School and on to the school yard, intent to find 15 checkpoints and complete five challenges in under an hour.
“Get it! Get it!” “No walking!” “Seven more!” were exclamations that came from the most ardent competitors as the annual Adventure Race unfolded. They hurried from checkpoint to checkpoint after deciphering from the maps where to go.
The race is the culmination of the school year and of sixth grade science – a great way for students to let loose and enjoy applying what they’ve learned in the areas of map reading, contour lines and map scales, teachers said.
‘It’s fun being competitive. When you get released, it’s like, ‘We’ve got to go, we’ve got to go, we’ve got to go!’– sixth-grader Paige Winkel
For the students, that meant a trek across and on the edges of school property, under bleachers, behind the press box and to other strategically marked locations to find flags and mark their cards to earn points. Some checkpoints included challenges, such as tossing a bean bag, finding a message within an optical illusion or solving a word puzzle for extra points.
“We get exercise for our brains and bodies and get to use map-making skills,” said sixth-grader Ivan Nash.
“It’s nice because you get to work as a team and it’s fun to explore,” said Paige Winkel. “It’s fun being competitive. When you get released. it’s like, ‘We’ve got to go, we’ve got to go, we’ve got to go!’”
Science teachers Lindsey Fonnesbeck, Kjia Pawloski and Eric Krusniak said the race is a great experience in an interesting sport in which they incorporate science and problem-solving.
“We talk a lot about strategy,” said Fonnesbeck, explaining how students choose how to tackle the race – starting by hitting checkpoints farther out and moving inward or vice versa, for example. “They just have to strategize what will be best for them.”
It’s an activity Nickels Intermediate School Principal Tom Trout, who participates in adventure races, loves to share with students. He said the mini-adventure race requires them to problem solve, read and interpret a scaled map, work together as a team, and manage their time wisely.
Plus, it’s so much fun.
”The kids always have such a good time, and the teachers and I really enjoy it too,” he said.