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Young game makers
Hartselle students qualify
for national competition

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — What sound does a cow make? If you answered "moo," you get to move one step up the mountain.

This question is part of a board game that six Hartselle Junior High students have designed to help prepare students for kindergarten.

The game, King of the Mountain, is one of two from Hartselle students competing in the TOYchallenge 2007 national competition in California at the San Diego Air and Space Museum on April 21 and 22.

"This is our first time to compete in this," said Gifted Program Coordinator Wanda McAbee. "Our kids submitted their game ideas in the preliminary rounds and their concepts were accepted for the national event."

3 Hartselle teams

McAbee said 350 teams nationwide submitted ideas and three teams from Hartselle are among the 150 selected for the final round.

At the nationals, Hartselle students will have eight minutes to present their games and answer judges' questions.

Seventh-graders Megan Smith, Isaac Robinson, Samuel Segars, Jessica O'Neill, Hallie Miller and Michael Brannon designed the King of the Mountain game.

"It is designed to teach pre-school kids what they need to know for kindergarten," said Smith, who is the daughter of a kindergarten teacher. "It will teach them things like letters and numbers and shapes."

Here's how the three-dimensional game works.

Players draw from 90 questions. Every time a correct answer is given, the player moves one step up the mountain. The player who reaches the top first gets to wear a crown that O'Neill designed.

"You have to answer at least 25 questions," said Segars, who designed the board that participants play on.

Learning budgeting

The sixth-grade team of Caitlin Beard, Robyn Gross and Nikki Harris designed a game that teaches middle and high school students how to budget.

Gross got the idea for the game after hearing her father talk about budgets.

"It's a modern day monopoly game with no real estate, and you don't get any money for passing go," she explained.

Each player gets 12 $100 tokens that can be spent on everything from housing to food to entertainment. The players make budget choices and follow them for a year. They cannot change the choices until the end of the year. The game includes no credit cards.

"Basically, what we're trying to do is teach people to spend only what they earn," Beard said. "We're still brainstorming on some of the rules."

Because of scheduling conflicts, the eighth-grade team of Audrey Smith, Jacquie Shadden, Noah Battles and Daniel Cheatham qualified but will not attend the national competition.

At the preliminary stage, judges commented that Hartselle's ideas were interesting and good for young children.

"I'm confident that they will do well," McAbee said about the national event.

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