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Morning Sun
  • Students participate in Wings Problem Solving Day

  • Pittsburg USD 250 elementary and high school brainiacs got the chance to work on team-building skills and give back to the district Friday at George Nettels Elementary.

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  • Pittsburg USD 250 elementary and high school brainiacs got the chance to work on team-building skills and give back to the district Friday at George Nettels Elementary.
    About 30 elementary school students — all of them fourth- and fifth-grade students from each of the four USD 250 elementary schools — in the Wings gifted program gathered at Nettels to take part in the annual Wings Problem Solving Day activity. The event is designed to help the students build teamwork and leadership skills, and the 12 high schoolers, who are also gifted students, donated their brain power to help them out.
    During Problem Solving Day, now in its 13th year, students work in teams of four to five to complete tasks involving physics, such as making small boats out of tin foil, constructing towers out of newspaper and Dixie cups. They also played chess and took memory quizzes. Gifted students from Pittsburg High School, many of whom participated in Problem Solving Day when they were in elementary school, assisted the students during the events throughout the morning and afternoon.
    Carole Rink, USD 250 Wings coordinator, said she thinks the activity, which teaches the importance of teamwork and cooperation, is beneficial to the students, who often prefer to work individually.
    “They’re going to have to work together with people in the real world,” Rink said. “No matter what you do, you have to adjust to that, that’s what we’re trying to help teach them.”
    Rink started as USD 250’s sole gifted teacher in 1984. Since then, she said, the district has added an additional three gifted teachers, all of whom Rink oversees, who travel from school to school so that the students can participate in the program each day during the time allotted for the state’s Multi-Tier System of Supports period — a time set aside for students who need extra help in certain subjects.
    “In most districts, they only get to participate one to two days per week,” Rink said. “We get them every day, so they can really jump into a topic.”
    The students in the PHS gifted program, directed by Beth Gilbert, act as mentors and judges at the event, and score the elementary students based on their level of teamwork.
    Junior Randa Pitts said she just likes working with children.
    “It’s just fun to be able to do different stuff, and it’s interesting to see them take on different challenges,” Pitts said.
    “I do it partly for the nostalgia because I did this when I was in elementary school,” said sophomore Cole Hamblin. “But it’s also interesting to see their thought processes.”
    Hamblin said he thinks the program, which focuses on independent study projects, was and is an important part of his academic development.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It’s pretty much been my favorite part of the day,” he said. “It’s different from the regular school day but it still makes you think.”
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