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A wet and wild ride: Students in area gifted programs work on waterpark models

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 12/27/17

What would a water ride look like if it was designed by fifth-graders?

You’d know the answer had you been at Kunkel Elementary School on Wednesday, Dec. 20.

Fifth-graders in the gifted …

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A wet and wild ride: Students in area gifted programs work on waterpark models

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What would a water ride look like if it was designed by fifth-graders?

You’d know the answer had you been at Kunkel Elementary School on Wednesday, Dec. 20.

Fifth-graders in the gifted program from Middletown Area School District and three other school districts — Derry Township, Lower Dauphin, and Palmyra — were invited to Kunkel for a “challenge” to see who could design and build the best new water ride.

“We basically give them a real-world problem to solve in groups,” said Kunkel Gifted Support teacher Trevor Davis.

The students were divided into teams, each consisting of students from all four districts. These students had not previously worked together, or probably even knew other, and would be expected to function as a team in order to build the water ride prototype.

To make the project as “real-world” as possible, the students got a presentation from a mechanical engineer with Hershey Entertainment and Resorts on “the challenges that he and his team have been working on for the new attraction this year” at Hersheypark, Davis said.

HERCO also lent to the event three other employees whose real-life jobs revolve around the water ride and other attractions at the park.

Their job was to critique the final projects that the students came up with, but “we don’t pick winners. We’re just giving feedback,” said Lisa Howard, one of those from Hershey Entertainment and Resorts.

The Hershey employees also brought the food — lots of pizza.

Using various kinds of materials, each team of four students was expected to design and build a water ride prototype that could move real water into three cups used to resemble pools.

The ride also needed to provide space for riders to wait in line, had to include safety signs with warnings for the riders, and was to be attractive with “themed scenery.”

Each ride was built inside a plastic wading pool — to prevent spilling water onto the carpet in the Kunkel classroom.

At the end of the day, in most cases at least some water leaked. But the students persevered, leading one teacher to praise them for using their “problem-solving skills” instead of giving up.