“Gambling is bad for you.”
I remember my grandmother saying that to me when I was in elementary school. Her statement was in response to my uncle buying my cousins and me lottery tickets for Christmas. My grandmother did not think the gifts were as appropriate as had my uncle.
Twelve years later, I finally understand what my grandmother was saying as I greet the smirking students at Horace Cureton Elementary School in East San Jose. In order to get everyone excited about our egg drop activity, I made a bet with the kids. As my grandmother had warned, I would lose the bet.
The egg drop activity placed all of the after-school participants into teams of five to six students. With practically no guidance, the students were given eight popsicle sticks, one sheet of paper and tape, and were told to be creative to protect their team egg, which would later be dropped onto concrete. I made a deal with our young engineers that if they could do the apparently “impossible” feat of protecting their egg, I would let them make me wear an embarrassing hat of their choosing as a public sign of their ingenuity and hard work.
The purpose of the game was three-fold. First, it was a way to engage the students’ critical thinking and creative capacities in a fun and interesting way. Second, it was a way to force the students out of their comfort zones and to build their confidence in taking such risks. Third, and finally, it was a way to allow the older students to act as role models to the younger students—developing their leadership skills while at the same time demonstrating effective teamwork strategies to the younger kids.
Having only 20 minutes to construct their craft, and only meager supplies to work with, I assumed I was pretty safe. After all, the recommended time for the activity (when working with adults) is to give at least 30 minutes, and more supplies. Furthermore, I figured there was nothing these kids could make me wear that would really be that ridiculous anyway.
Unfortunately, I assumed wrong in both regards. Not only did eight of our 20 teams protect their eggs, but the winning group decided that rather than give me a Giants or 49ers hat as I had anticipated, they would make me a hat full with paper streamers and balloons hanging off of its construction paper frame. On the front of the hat read a note written by the students, “Do not gamble or you will end up like this!”
Perhaps my grandmother knew what she was talking about after all.
John Korevec, Corps Member CYSJ