ORFORDVILLE

If there was ever a rival for the energy of a pack of huskies, it might be a hitch of fourth-graders.

The baseball diamond outside Parkview Elementary School was inundated Friday afternoon with students running, screaming and barking in anticipation of the first annual “Ikidarod.”

190316_IKIDAROD02

Teammates Zackary Sosinksky, Ariella Slove, Erik Garcia, Ivy Mitchem, Bronsen Carter, Arrolynn Price and Ronin Kratz, left to right, compete in an Iditarod-inspired race for fourth-graders at Parkview Elementary School on Friday.

Why barking? Most of the 42 students were “dogs” for the Ikidarod race—a play on Iditarod, the annual 1,000-mile-long sled dog race that spans Alaska.

Fourth-grade teacher Nikki Lutzke led Parkview’s first Ikidarod, which includes a two-week lesson on the Iditarod, Alaskan geography, science and geometry, she said.

The students used STEM skills to build their own sleds from recycled materials with help from family, friends and high school tech-ed students, Lutzke said.

Students drew designs for the sleds then met with mentors, who helped refine the designs and build the sleds out of materials such as PVC pipe, wood, rope, plastics and pool noodles, Lutzke said.

The Ikidarod curriculum ties together social studies, science, math and physical education, Lutzke said.

Six teams of seven kids lined up their homemade sleds across the outfield Friday. The teams pushed off one by one every couple minutes, similarly to how the professionals begin the race in Alaska.

Six kids in each team pulled one student on the sled to each station along the diamond. At the first station, students picked cards that included obstacles that might be seen in the Iditarod, such as a moose standing in front of the path.

The second station was a mandatory stop, like the ones mushers have to take in the big Alaska race.

Some kicked off the race strong while other stumbled, literally, into the mud.

Traditionally, sled races are held on snow, but the Ikidarod happened after almost all the snow had melted. The kids didn’t seem to care.

The cold, however, had not gone away, and most of the students had beet-red cheeks from wind by the end of the race.

190316_IKIDAROD01

Musher Austin Boehning leans back for the ride as he’s pulled by teammates in an Iditarod-inspired race for fourth-graders at Parkview Elementary School on Friday. Students started working in teams two weeks ago to design their sleds and chose who would play the role of dogs and who the mushers.

Lutzke started teaching Ikidarod when she was a teacher at Abraham Lincoln Accelerated Learning Academy in Monroe. Students in Monroe now use kits to build sleds, which the Parkview students were “disgusted” at, Lutzke said.

The students enjoyed making the sleds in the school’s makerspace as much as they loved running around outside, Lutzke said.

The students whooped and hollered through the race Friday. The loudest yells came from the students riding in the sleds. It appeared to be much easier to be a motivator when you’re not hitched for pulling.

Reporter - Milton, Edgerton, Albany, Brodhead, Evansville, Footville, Orfordville, health

GazetteXtra.com does not condone or review every comment. Read more in our Commenter Policy Agreement

  • Keep it clean. Comments that are obscene, vulgar or sexually oriented will be removed. Creative spelling of such terms or implied use of such language is banned, also.
  • Don't threaten to hurt or kill anyone.
  • Be nice. No racism, sexism or any other sort of -ism that degrades another person.
  • Harassing comments. If you are the subject of a harassing comment or personal attack by another user, do not respond in-kind. Use the "Report comment abuse" link below to report offensive comments.
  • Share what you know. Give us your eyewitness accounts, background, observations and history.
  • Do not libel anyone. Libel is writing something false about someone that damages that person's reputation.
  • Ask questions. What more do you want to know about the story?
  • Stay focused. Keep on the story's topic.
  • Help us get it right. If you spot a factual error or misspelling, email newsroom@gazettextra.com or call 1-800-362-6712.
  • Remember, this is our site. We set the rules, and we reserve the right to remove any comments that we deem inappropriate.

Report comment abuse