For Coaches and Teachers, For Hosts and Facilitators

Meet 3 Reflection

Wow! This condensed season is just flying by. The Round Robin competitions are now over (unless you were one of those unfortunate districts caught in the January 9th inclement weather, that is) and we’d love to hear from you about this or any Meet so far this season.

Have you noticed any differences from last year to this year? Are the weekly articles on this blog helping you and your team? Did any of the events stand out to you? Do you have any pictures to share?

Leave us a comment by clicking the link above, or send pictures to!

Announcements, For Coaches and Teachers, For Hosts and Facilitators, For Kids

Meet 2 Reflection

That’s two Round Robins down and only one to go! We’d love to hear from you about our second Meet of the season.

Did any students display a special or surprising talent? Did you get a kick out of any of challenges? Were there items on the Face-Off that even stumped the parents?

Leave us a comment by clicking “Leave a Comment” below the title of this post and send your photos to to get them into our upcoming photo gallery.

For Coaches and Teachers, Resources, SCAMPER Technique

Getting the Most out of SCAMPER: P is for Put to Another Use

So far, most of the SCAMPER technique has been about how to change ideas and things, but P is all about recognizing the qualities that are already inherent in an object or attitude.

For instance, dice are used to tell you how far to advance during a board game but they could be used to practice math problems. Playing cards are used in lots of games to take tricks, but a group could decide that the person who draws the low card has to go out to get more snacks. Butter is delicious on toast, but as seen at the MN State Fair it can be a great material for sculpting. Toothpicks can get spinach out of your bicuspids, but they are also used to make appetizers easier to eat. Styrofoam is a packing material, but it also floats so if a person needs an emergency life preserver it would do in pinch to save your life.

Parque Guell ceilingLately, there has been a trend to take waste products and turn them into something new. For example, those nice tote bags that you can buy in grocery and convenience stores are often made out of recycled plastic bags. Antoni Gaudi was a Spanish artist who took broken plates and tiles and made them into beautiful artwork. In one of my favorite episodes of Mythbusters the team took old newspapers, soaked them in water and froze them in a boat-shaped mold. They were able to add and engine and motor around a lake for almost an hour!

So if you are having a practice session before a Meet, think about bringing different objects and giving the students a chance to think about all the different things they could be used for.

Happy brainstorming!

For Coaches and Teachers, For Kids, For Parents, P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box, Resources, SCAMPER Technique

Getting the Most out of SCAMPER: C is for Combine

There are few things that aren’t improved by adding chocolate. Coffee and chocolate, mint and chocolate, and my personal favorite,  a chocolately minty mocha! But blending things together can make more than just delicious caffeinated beverages, it can also be a recipe for creativity.

Where substitution is mostly focused on things and materials, combination is great way to think about manipulating ideas and bringing people together for different purposes. For instance, there is a television show on ABC called Once Upon a Time that incorporates different fairy tales and literary characters into one small town where they explore their connections in the past and how they would interact if thrown together in the present. The Avengers is a popular Marvel Comics franchise where superheroes team up to fight the forces of evil, but it is the force of their individual personalities that ends up being their biggest challenge. And last year USAT had a challenge that asked students to bring different animals together to reach a common goal.

In many ways, just being part of a team is also an exercise in combination. Some students may be stronger at math, others may excel at acting, and some may be better at thinking on their feet. Academic Triathlon is a great opportunity for students to shine in the areas in which they are already strong, and to explore new skills that they may not find as easy to harness. Being able to work together and being supportive of creative risk-taking are key parts to success during AT Meets and beyond.

“Combine” is a great tool to incorporate into P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box challenges. In addition to writing interesting stories, students are asked to quickly construct props and costumes by bringing together materials like plastic cups, paper plates and garbage bags. Time is of the essence during prep time, and practice doesn’t have to make perfect but it sure can save time. These items are a part of almost every Meet, which means it is worth the time to practice working with them and figure out cool ways to bring them together. Cardboard is an incredibly versatile substance, but the box that holds all of the other materials is rarely used as anything but a way to carry the props and costumes to the performance! Just think about the hours of fun your students could have exploring different ways to combine different materials as a way to get excited for a Meet.