Ten senior G/T students competed in a “Survivor Camp” against Mrs. Jenness Davidson’s fifth grade class at Thousand Oaks Elementary. Led by senior Dana Moore the purpose was to persuade them to continue the Gifted and Talented program through high school.
The success of the camp determined that, provided each year of students are willing to put in the months of work and effort to keep it going, it will be an annual event.
“Davidson approached me about connecting abut elementary students as we’re graduating,” Moore said. “This is a kind of way to give back and I connected with the message he was trying to send, so I took over. We worked with Jenness Davidson, the fifth grade G/T teacher at Thousand Oaks elementary. Their main objectives were systems, structures, mystery and philosophy. We tried to tailor each event for one or more objectives. Jenga was for structure, the maze was for systems, the Lego challenge was systems and structure and Clue was mystery and philosophy. Organizing the event was rewarding because everyone involved was really touched by it. In the next few years, the event will be more inclusive and involve the entire school district.”
The seniors assisted four groups of elementary students in five challenges: life-sized Jenga, recreating national structures out of legos, a blind maze, and a identifying a criminal in a game of clue. The group who won each challenge received points, and the winner at the end of the challenge got to compete in a special, additional challenge against the high schoolers.
The subject of life sized Jenga, played with large, precisely cut pieces of wood, was to place the wood from the bottom on top of the wood pile and keep the pile from collapsing. The game proved more challenging because the kids had to move three pieces at a time rather than just one.
The Lego challenge was the most popular among the class, where in 15 minutes the students recreated the Lincoln Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, the Tower of the Americas, and the Golden Gate Bridge. As they built their scale models, they created an instruction booklet and in the next 10 minutes, a different group had to recreate their model.
The maze was the quickest challenge; looking at the puzzle, the groups had to create directions and complete the maze without looking at the path engraved for them. The group that completed it the fastest received the most points.
The final group challenge was a game of Clue. The high schoolers created a video and gave every child a clipboard to record questions and observations. All of the students solved the philosopher’s crime- Aristotle in the kitchen with the sleeping potion- and were thrilled that they did.
The final challenge was a scavenger hunt. Each of the four groups found one piece of an idol, and when it was placed together, formed a keepsake for the class.
The last thing was the elementary versus high school challenge, a timed puzzle that neither could solve.
The G/T administrator Mrs. Kay Stotts was extremely excited when Mr. Steve Davidson approached her with the proposal.
“I wasn’t sure what kind of activities would be going on, but I knew the kids were excited,” Stotts said. “I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in. I was really happy to see this project brought high school students and elementary students together. Dana was perfect for this, she was very careful with the sensitivity of the kids who were called. They can see what the future holds. Every level of G/T focuses on different things, so if they’re fortunate enough to remain in it throughout the years, they’ll leave with knowledge they couldn’t get anywhere else.”
Stotts was proud of the high schoolers by the end of the challenge.
“This is the kind of thing that keeps G/T kids interested in school,” she said. “To be able to work with high school or elementary school, it’s like we’re all in this together, and if this is something that could happen every year, that would be perfect.”