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East County Wednesday, May. 19, 2010 7 years ago

Willis Elementary steps into shoe design contest

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Jensina Gill’s second-grade classroom at Willis Elementary was a flurry of activity as children gathered in groups, rehearsing lines, displaying posters and making other preparations for the shooting of their class commercial.

Their object of focus: shoes.

A pair of totally awesome shoes.

Gill’s classroom is one of two in Manatee to be competing in the Walk Our World shoe design contest hosted by Rock Our World, a global learning community.

“I have a very creative class this year, so I thought it would be an excellent way for them to show their creativity,” Gill said. “It’s giving them a structure outside a typical classroom project.”

The program kicked off several months ago with a two-hour video conferencing session with D’Wayne Edwards, design director of footwear for Nike’s Jordan brand shoe.

And then, the children got busy.

While most children in Gill’s classroom chose to work on an individual design, they also worked as a group to come up with an idea for a class shoe.

Gill’s class decided they wanted their shoe to be a sneaker for both children and adults that would increase a runner’s speed, regulate foot temperatures, have music capabilities and would prevent gum from sticking to the bottom, she said.

Their target consumer would want to buy the shoe because it is safe, comfortable, reasonably priced, increases running speed and comes with a two-year warranty.

The class then selected three pictures to represent their vision for the shoe — a rainbow for color, a cheetah for speed and barbells for strength — and sent their proposal to a class in Israel to be designed.

Students still haven’t seen the final project, but they did work hard to design a quality shoe for a classroom in Australia based on the requirements it sent to them.

Eight-year-old Dylan Spofford, who designed the logo for the Australian shoe, said he enjoyed drawing his individual shoe design best. Dylan chose not to put any wording on the back of the shoe and drew snowboarding hills there. The bottom of the shoe has a blue camouflage design, inspired by his grandfather’s love of hunting.

Samantha Torino said she enjoyed the project as well.

“I think it’s cool because we get to come together and do something,” she said. “We actually learn how each other does stuff. W learned how to work together.”

Samantha also said she’s made friends with more of her classmates because of the teamwork required by the project.

Students saw the final cut of their one-minute commercial Monday.

Contest winners for both the individual shoe and class shoe designs will be announced during a follow-up video conference May 29.

Gill said the project helped children understand the concept of global outreach, but the experience also has helped her students evolve as leaders.

“I love the fact that its global learning,” she said. “They’ve done a good job.”

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

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