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If you build it, they will play
If you build it, they will play
Posted on 10/18/2019
High school and elementary students posing in their new gaga pitSchwarkoff Elementary students have gone “gaga” over a unique partnership they had have with high school woodworking students.

The Henry Ford II woodworking students recently worked with several Schwarzkoff students to build an outdoor “Gaga Pit” that will be used for physical education and recess. 

“This really provides our students a new and exciting activity on the playground,” said Schwarzkoff Elementary physical education teacher Amy Irvine. “It gives them another opportunity to play and be active.”

The gaga ball pit is an enclosed area in the pattern of a circle.  Participants use a ball with their hands to try and eliminate other players. The game requires participants to avoid coming in contact with a ball directed at them by dodging, running, and jumping, with the objective of being the last person standing. 

The Henry Ford II woodworking students worked with four Schwarzkoff sixth graders to build the pit, which had wood walls approximately 20 feet apart from each other and a door to enter the pit. 

“Getting the opportunity to build a new gaga pit for these kids was awesome,” said Antonia Nvnney. “We had so much fun working with the kids and showing them how to build as a team."

High school students cut the lumber to size and had to countersink and drill holes to connect the lumber to the brackets provided in the kit. The students use an awl to mark where the holes would be drilled.
Elementary students then learned the names of the tools and marked the areas that needed to be drilled. 

"It was a great experience and by the end we all had learned something new,” said senior Madeline Rice-Demick. “Being able to build the gaga pits was a very cool way to show what we learned in class to the 6th graders.”

The Ford II-Schwarzkoff partnership was initiated after principal Amber Fante saw students featured in a national woodworking magazine for their work to build paddle boards. 

 “It’s important that we were able to create that mentoring relationship with high school students, who are doing some amazing projects,” Irvine said. “For our sixth graders, I hope it opened their eyes to different types of work that would be available to them in their future.” 

Ford II workworking teacher Christopher Davis said seeing the reaction of the Schwarzkoff students was the best part of the day. 

"The kids surrounded the pits and chanted ‘GAGA PITS, GAGA PITS,’” Davis said.  “They were so excited and that's what it's all about." 

A week later, the excitement was still there are students learned the rules of Gaga during their physical education classes. 

“It’s fun because it involves a lot of people,” said first-grader George Issak. “I think I’ll be playing on it a lot.”