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American Ninja Warrior design challenge

Third-graders from the Rockwood School District Center for Creative Learning pose with American Ninja Warrior Jamie Rahn.
Third-graders from the Rockwood School District Center for Creative Learning pose with American Ninja Warrior Jamie Rahn.

A design challenge based on the American Ninja Warrior reality competition show is returning to Rockwood. For a third year, Katy Davis is teaching the Ninja Design Challenge class at the Center for Creative Learning.

The goal of the eight-week course is for her students to use problem-solving skills to design playground obstacles that wouldn’t seem out of place on the popular show

“They work through the design process, imagine obstacles, create them and work to improve them to see if they’re reasonable in the testing phase,” Davis said. “Then, they create the course at recess so they can see the end result. It helps the kids think about the playground in different ways.”

This year’s class is the first one to workshop its proposed obstacles with a certified ninja warrior and course designer, Jamie Rahn, who has competed on nine seasons of American Ninja Warrior. Rahn, who works at the Ultimate Ninjas Gym in Chesterfield, visited with all five of Davis’ third grade classes.

He used one-on-one time to hear about the students’ favorite obstacle conceptions and suggest ways they could be improved before the final product. The students also took field trips to the Olympia Gym in Ellisville, where ninja coach Corey Barger answered questions about the obstacles he constructs. The students also got to try out the facility’s equipment.

At the end of the eight weeks, each student picks his or her favorite obstacle, and they’re combined into a course created by each class. Then, all five combined course plans are posted on the playground so everyone can test their skills against the ninja obstacles that their classmates created.

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