People set Guinness World Records for just about anything. From the largest meatball to the longest fingernails to gargantuan rubber band balls, if there is a way to top it, people figure out a way.
On Thursday, 800 Payson elementary and middle school students are getting in on the record-setting action.
During physical education classes at Rim Country Middle School, Frontier, Julia Randall and Payson Elementary, students will participate with other students around the globe in sport stacking cups. The goal is to get a quarter million children and adults stacking cups throughout the day.
This is fourth time the World Sport Stacking Association (WSSA) has held the annual Stack Up. Last year, 222,560 students from 1,343 schools in 13 countries participated. This year, students in as many as 26 countries are taking part.
Now, you might be scratching your head wondering what sport stacking is and why it is important. Physical education teacher Judy Perham had the same questions when she heard about the activity at an annual conference several years ago.
Sport stacking involves using specially designed cups to stack and unstack cups in a specific sequence. Similar to a house of cards, cups are traditionally stacked in a pyramid using three to 10 cups. At competitions, sport-stacking athletes compete against other stackers and the clock.
While any cup can be used to practice at home, at official WSSA competitions, only specially designed plastic cups with holes are used. Holes on the bottom allow air to pass through as competitors quickly stack them and the cups are designed not to stick together.
The Payson school district purchased its own official set of cups several years ago. At a $500 per set cost, Perham said they are expensive, but come with a lifetime guarantee. This means if a student breaks one of the 360 cups in a set, Perham only has to ask and the school gets a new cup.
On Monday, Perham began prepping students for Thursday’s record-setting event.
In a class with first-graders, most had never stacked cups before. Perham introduced them to the sport by first having them play games with the cups, picking them up, moving them and setting them down.
She then introduced the concept of using the left hand to pick up cups on the left side of the pyramid. The right hand is then used to stack and unstack cups on the right of the pyramid.
For most first-graders, it was difficult to remember which hand should pick up which cups. A student who is right-hand dominant will normally want to grab a cup with their right hand, regardless of where it is, Perham said. It takes practice and good eye-hand coordination to stack the cups in the right order.
Perham said she had no idea how beneficial using the cups would be. After using the exercise a few times, she realized a student’s ambidexterity and coordination could improve through this simple activity.
For example, a student who struggles to do a lay up or throw a ball properly may do so because they do not know how to step forward using the right foot. Using the cups, students build cross-reference and possibly increase their performance and coordination for playing sports.
According to the speed stacks Web site, students who sport stack on a regular basis have also shown increases in test scores and levels of concentration because they have learned to use both sides of their brain.
“If this was just fun, I probably would not do it,” Perham said. “Everything we do (as physical education teachers) has a purpose.”
With physical education classes being virtually cut out of curriculum, Perham said the little time she spends with students is vital. When students exercise, they perform better, she pointed out.
In Payson, kindergarten through second-grade students attend physical education class once a week, and third- through fifth-graders twice a week.
Perham would like to work more with the cups in the future and said the district could use another set of cups.
“Even teachers could use them in the classroom for right-left brain development,” she said.