Tower construction a mathematical test for elementary school students

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PARIS – “Teamwork, teamwork,” cried Harrison Elementary School student Allison Gagne as she and members of Team Jade frantically tried to piece together a tall structure with biodegradable packing peanuts and toothpicks.

The members of Team Jade were participating along with about 100 Oxford Hills School District fifth- and sixth-graders in the second of two district-wide mathematics meets at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School on Wednesday.

“This is a team-building activity,” said elementary school mathematics coach David Stearns of the daylong event. It began with a morning session of arithmetic and geometry-based testing followed by the activity sessions that involved mathematical challenges.

The students’ assignment was to take 25 toothpicks, a wet sponge and a box of packing peanuts and build the tallest structure they could that would remain standing.

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With the help of High School Key Club members and others, the activity was timed. Students had 15 minutes to decide what to do and to build the structure.

“We’re looking for height,” said Simon Misner as he and his Harrison teammates tried to structure a tall but strong tower out of packing peanuts.

“We’re also looking for support,” a teammate said.

The Oxford Elementary Team named its structure the “Alien Tower of Oxford.”

Team Ivory, another Harrison Elementary School team, built a tower that Stearns called “very consistent” and with “great support.”

Team Ivory’s tower measured 72 centimeters on the metric ruler, but the Rowe Elementary School students’ Team Desert won the first round with a 96-centimeter tower that swayed precariously just before Stearns measured it.

Although elementary school students have been traveling to Portland each year to participate in the statewide mathematics meet, school officials said this year the budget could not accommodate taking students on the more than 100-mile round trip to the city for the twice-a-year event.

School officials came up with the idea of having an in-house meet at the same times as the Portland meets.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

The winners of the mathematics meet were:

Grade 5, Individual Score:

First with 22 points: a tie between Nathan Godbout (Hebron Station) and Theresa Wilson (Harrison.)

Second with 20 points: Brandon Labbe (Otisfield.)

Third with 17 points: a tie between Ammel Dooley (Hebron Station) and Brad Wielki (Otisfield.)

Grade 5, Team Score:

First with 103 combined points: Hebron Station Team Aqua (Rosemary Eichorn, Matthias Goodwin, Ammel Dooley, Nathan Godbout, Jon Libby, and Hannah Hartnett).

Second with 76 combined points: Harrison Team Ivory (Tyler Edwards, Theresa Wilson, Nicole Auger, Spencer Hurd, Ashtin Lewis, and Abigail Rizzo).

Third with 73 combined points: Otisfield Team Fuschia (Brandon Labbe, Brad Wielki, Logan Day, and Celina Lavertu).

Grade 6, Individual Scores:

First with 29 points: Ethan Judkins (Otisfield.)

Second with 24 points: Ellie Bessette (Norway.)

Third with 23 points: Jordan Labbe (Otisfield.)

Grade 6, Team Scores:

First with 100 combined points: Harrison Team Khaki  (Nicole Washburn, Jacob Beauchesne, Dimitri Dibiase, Isaiah Alexander, Daniel Garber, and Nicole Lessor).

Second with 94 combined points: Norway Team Desert (Ellie Bessette, Andrew Fleming, Mac Kim, Tayla Roberts).

Third with 93 combined points: West Paris Team Cobalt (Emily Black, Emma Files, Prentiss Kurtz, Kate Wilson, and Sera Schweikhardt).

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