Thanks to MLive.com for this article.
Ikidarod mimics Iditarod Sled Dog Race, teaches teamwork at charter school
by Beth Loechler | The Grand Rapids Press
Friday March 07, 2008
The Ikidarod, a more-than-slightly modified version of the 1,100-mile sled dog race across Alaska, took place at Vista Charter Academy on Thursday morning. Teams of two-legged, fur-free friends pulled wooden sleds across the snow — and asphalt — while more than 600 onlookers cheered and waved posters that read, “Go sled dogs.”
“Now I know why the dogs wear those booties. My hands are freezing,” said participant Martin Uchendu, whose Rocket Sled Dog team placed second in a field of two.
“And I learned how much work the dogs do. They must be tired,” Martin added after his quarter-mile trek around school property.
The Ikidarod idea was born four years ago when Huizinga, who visited Iditarod headquarters during a college trip to Alaska, put together a lesson on the sled dog race.
This year, students picked their favorite Alaskan huskies and learned how their bodies are designed for pulling. They wrote short biographies on famous and not-so-famous mushers, researched the people native to Northern Alaska and calculated the distance between checkpoints.
A couple of years ago, Huizinga built two wooden sleds so students could get a taste of dog-mushing. Then, he mapped out a race course with checkpoints and mandatory rest times. Teams had to stop for a drink of water and a couple of pretzels.
This year, third-grade teacher Sara Brinks conducted checkpoint interviews with the intent of creating an Ikidarod Podcast to post on iTunes.
“It didn’t used to be this big,” Huizinga said.
He sees the Ikidarod as a way for students to enjoy learning and “take ownership” of their education, he said. “Plus, they start to realize what goes into cooperation and perseverance.”