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The City Journals

Jordan Ridge Students Earn State Title in Creative Pursuits

Jan 26, 2016 01:51PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

South Jordan - The Jordan Ridge “Fossilists” earned their school a consecutive state title in the Creative Pursuit Bowl. The team of four fourth graders created a museum exhibit of fossils that matched the theme of “Night of the Museum” and helped them to win the first-place trophies.

At the bowl, each school district in the state could send two top teams in third and fourth grades to compete in a three-part competition: an original museum model, a skit to highlight the model and a demonstration of impromptu thinking skills. The students have to meet guidelines, such as materials they can use, a $10 cost limit and time period.

Since September, Jordan Ridge’s Fossilists met during and after school to research fossils, which ties into the fourth-grade core curriculum, and practice impromptu questions. They also created and practiced their skit. 

Then, they had to compete at the Jordan School District contest on Nov. 15, where they received trophies, before going head-to-head with other teams at the state bowl, which was held Dec. 1 at South Jordan Middle School.

The first place state fourth-grade team consists of Mara Spigarelli, Sonora Homer, Jordan Fjeldsted and Ace Reiser. They were coached by teacher Valery Gines.

“The students had to do it all on their own,” Gines said. “It was very hard for me not to get involved, but great to see them research and brainstorm. They worked together on their own.”

The students were allowed to suggest people they could work with as a team and looked for classmates who were creative, orderly, responsible for getting things done and could compromise with others.

“Working together is harder to get it done, but by doing so, I got to know my teammates better and we had a lot more ideas so we compromised,” Mara said.

They even compromised what would be featured in their museum exhibit, each making a different item. Amongst their displays were shells and bugs stuck in amber, a trilobite fossil, a trace paw print and an impression of a worm. As part of the contest rules, they could only spend a maximum of $10 for supplies.

First, they had to research online and in books about fossils and minerals. Jordan said he didn’t realize there were different bone types until they were doing research.

“I liked that we got to use our mind to something and learn,” Ace said. “We also got to be creative with impromptus when they asked for varied and unusual answers.”

Sonora said that they practiced on impromptu prompts.

“If someone had a good idea, we’d just tweak it so we were able to work together at the same time as giving our own responses,” she said.

They created their museum display covering a raspberry box, a shoebox and Pringles can with red butcher paper. The model needed to be used in the skit and every additional item used were limited to a list provided before the competition. Students were rewarded for creativity and originality as well as how many items they used.

“We had lots of fun with the skit,” Jordan said. “People laughed when I danced disco.”

Sonora said they made up the skit as they went along in the process of preparing for the competition.

“There’s tons of puns and plays on words, and everyone was laughing,” she said.

Through designing and building a museum display, students needed to use skills in research, social studies and technology. With the impromptu part of the competition, students used language arts skills, and in their performances, they used public speaking, memorization, theater and gained self-confidence. 

They also learned to be organized and take initiative.

“We listened to each other and talked to other people for ideas and knew we had to work together to do well,” Mara said.

“And we didn’t judge,” Ace added.

Although the class haven’t studied the fossils unit yet, the Fossilists know when they do they can help their classmates.

“We’ve already learned some, and I’m excited to learn more when we study it. It will be fun to share this with other people,” Jordan said.

Creative Pursuits started out in the Salt Lake School District in 1979 as a less expensive option to Odyssey of the Mind. The other districts were invited to participate so it would be a friendly competition.