Mush! - Sixth-graders get a visit from Iditarod racer
So, when Moore School teacher Judi Lindsey had a chance to bring an official musher to her 57 sixth-graders, she grabbed the opportunity.
Lindsey has always loved dogs and snow, and said she has always been fascinated with working dogs and their relationship with their owners.
Tom DiMaggio, a musher for 40 years and owner of Anuska Kennels brought two of his Alaskan husky/Eurohound dogs in to visit Lindsey';s Minds in Motion class.
DiMaggio opened his visit on Dec. 6 by telling the children they would take a ride on a dog sled. Before the students could point out that there was no snow outside, he put on a video for the children to feel the dog sledding experience.
DiMaggio explained the differences between an average race and the Iditarod race.
';The Iditarod teams start with 12 dogs and the lead dogs are always the smartest ones,'; he said. ';That particular race runs 8 to 10 mph, while other races will run 18 to 20 mph. The Iditarod will run consistently for 100 or so miles while others race three days at 8 miles a day.';
He explained that average mushers have been known to hallucinate during the long ordeal of the Iditarod.
';A normal rest period for a musher in a day is typically two hours, if he/she gets that,'; he said.
DiMaggio stressed two important rules for mushers -;never let go of the sled, and the dogs always come first.
After the video, DiMaggio brought in two racing dogs named Pounder and Mia, along with a racing dog sled that he personally hand-built for the students to examine.
The sixth-graders have been researching facts, and meet twice a week for eight weeks.
';It';s exciting, and the kids totally love the theme of the project!'; said Lindsey. ';Students will come to me in the halls and tell me what they';re working on.';
Some of the projects they will work on are a school blog site, a hands-on project, and a bulletin board with photographs and their research information.
Student Lauren Trippiedi said, ';I';m actually working on a Legos dog sled scene for my project, and I also created a PowerPoint presentation which I attached music. I had a lot of fun doing it!';
Lindsey hopes to extend the unit by getting in touch with five mushers who may email her class and relay their specific GPS coordinates during the race in Alaska March 3 and 4. The students will then be able to track each musher and pinpoint their locations on a map.
To follow the class project, you can visit iditarodcandia.blogspot.com.