SCAMPER is a valuable technique for students as they approach USAT challenges. Mind Sprints often are centered on brain-storming activities, or at least have a bonus round that requires quick thinking and fast answers. SCAMPER is a great way to come up with new uses for old ideas and objects. Teams are encouraged to keep a SCAMPER sheet int their Competition Kit all year long to help them out. Download a SCAMPER sheet now.
You can also visit our series on each of the 7 aspects of SCAMPER for more hints and explanations.
We hope you all had a great time at Round Robin #1! Many teams came back for yet another season, but we also had the chance to welcome new teams to the fold. In a perfect world, the students came together and sparked immediately in a shower of creative fireworks. In reality, even the most seasoned Triathletes can use a little nudge back into sync from time to time.
Since it’s the beginning of the season, we thought we’d provide a “getting to know you” activity for the students. It’s a dash of P.A.RT.Y. in a Box and mixed with a Mind Sprint’s ticking clock. We’d love to see the results of this role-playing activity. Please, send any finished interviews, images the activity inspires, and videos of our students giving it a whirl to Alison@usacademictriathlon.com.
Objective: Use an interview structure to refresh acting skills and help the students get to know each other better to boost creative flow.
Quick Set-up: An activity for 1 or more. Download and print the interview questions template, or answer the questions below as a verbal activity.
Conducting the interviews: We ask our Triathletes to introduce themselves at Round Robin #1 every year. Now, it’s time to think about who you’d like to be rather than who you are. Use the questions to create a fascinating life story for yourself. The sky is the limit when it comes to what can happen between now and 2050, so aim high when you talk about your accomplishments and aspirations as your adult self.
Take turns acting as an interviewer, be it for a local newspaper, Time Magazine, or your future child’s family history project. Feel free to add or skip any questions you don’t feel like doing. Some people may wish for time to write down their responses in advance, and others may feel ready to jump right in. Use these questions in whatever way works best for you!
Bonus activity: Use your Competition Kit or things around the home or classroom to create one prop your future self would use to add interest to their interview. Refer to it at any point during the dialog and tell a story.
Interviewer: Briefly introduce yourself for the “audience,” then proceed to the questions.
What an interesting life you’ve lived! Are there any moments that stand out to you the most?
You are a person of many talents. What would you say you are the best known for at this point in your life?
Did that take any training or classes to be able to do that? Maybe a mentor or someone who made a real difference?
When you aren’t busy with that, how do you spend your free time?
Do you do all of that by yourself, or do you have friends or family who do that with you?
What about pets? Do you have a furry friend or slippery serpent in your life? Does your pet require any special care?
Do you have a favorite book or quote that inspired you along the way?
What’s in store for you next? Do you have any goals for the second half of the century?
Thank you so much for your time. Do you have any parting words or advice for young people today?
If you are a parent or educator, you have probably heard the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) acronym thrown around a lot lately. This is due, in a large part, to studies that have shown a decline in interest in these subjects by American students. As a whole, our society will suffer from this trend as this generation enters adulthood without the tools to think critically and find ways to meet new challenges.
In response, federal and local governments, as well as independent philanthropic organizations, have implemented several measures and funding opportunities over the last few years. This takes the form of recruiting teachers trained in STEM fields, training existing teachers in best practices for integrating STEM into their classrooms, and funding for special projects that promote student interest in these intersecting fields.
At United States Academic Triathlon, we have always worked to provide our students with questions and challenges that span a variety of disciplines, including those represented by STEM. Over the next several weeks, this blog will feature posts that pertain to each of the four subjects, the ways the USAT addresses them, and creative ways to inspire students to embrace them.
No subject exists in a vacuum, and creativity is something that can enhance any endeavor. After all, computers can do complex calculations but they will never be “inspired” to do them. It is curiosity that drives us to ask questions and seek to understand our world and creativity that provides us with a means of applying tools such as mathematics and engineering. As a species, we have done a great job of answering many of the questions that confront us in our daily lives, but there is so much more to learn. The “way it has always been done” is not necessarily the “best” way, and what makes something better than something else is completely objective.
The pursuit of new and creative solutions can result in failure, but this does not negate the journey. Oftentimes, these “failures” turn out to be successes – they are simply the answer to a different question. For instance, when the glue commonly used in sticky notes was created, the people working on it were trying to create an extremely strong adhesive. When they “failed” to make something super sticky they opened the door to possibilities of impermanent adhesives, and just one application now sits in desk drawers all over the world.
As parents and educators, the best thing we can do for the next generation is to help them stay curious and creative. This can take many forms. We can help them to research the answer to a question they ask, encourage them to read for pleasure, make them turn off their electronic devices in favor of going out into the world, or play games that require imagination. At the beginning of a task, ask your children or students how they would solve a problem. Even if you feel like you know the “best” or “right” answer, ask them for their opinions even if they might be totally outside of the realm of possibilities (fix the broken pipe with peanut butter? Probably not).
This type of interaction encourages them to think constructively and creatively, and reinforces a sense that their ideas matter. Only after they feel confident in their ability to ask and answer questions can they use tools like the STEM disciplines to answer them.
Winning isn’t everything, but it is a shame when a team misses an opportunity to get points because of an oversight.Here are a few ways to help your students excel during the P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box round.
1.Read the Prompt thoroughly. The P.A.R.T.Y. challenges are never longer than one page. Even though 45 minutes isn’t a long time to do everything needed to develop a skit, it is worth a team’s time to read the prompt more than once.
2.Look at the scoring rubric. It is not a mystery how the performances are going to be scored, the scoring rubric is included on the team copy. Unless penalties are assessed, each performance scores a minimum of 30 points, because we don’t believe in zeroes, and a maximum of 117 points. Some categories stay the same, and others change depending on the story being told. Each section of the “Team’s Use of Materials” category is always worth a maximum of 10 points, for instance, and is about the appearance of costumes and sets. The section with the largest potential for earning points always centers on the plot, and the team’s ability to address the central problem. On its own, this part is worth up to 25 points. Some prompts also require teams to do something specific, like recite a poem or add music, and if gets left out it can mean a loss of 10 points.
3. Take notes. Every Meet there are teams who have to prepare their performance during the first Tri, which means it can be hours between seeing the prompt and when the performance finally takes place. Even though teams can’t take the prompt with them in order to ensure that no other team gets an unfair advantage, there is no reason they can’t take notes about what they are going to do in their skits. In the excitement of performing, kids can sometimes forget their lines and leave out something key to their story. These notes can be kept “back stage” and referred to during the performance to make sure that nothing important gets forgotten. Another place where these notes can come into play is if the team uses a narrator, who can hold onto them during the performance and refer to them throughout.