14 June 2006

Pareto Optimality: Elementary Style

I "volunteered" at the local elementary school field day earlier today. I was running the football kick station. Bless their souls, but when it comes to kicking a football from a tee, the k-2 graders were all over the place.

There were two tees and each kid kicked with a partner to see who could kick the farthest (although competition was discouraged). My job was essentially to pick up the balls which were usually kicked in nearly opposite directions. After about an hour, I tired, so I changed the rules.

First, I had each of the two kids kick the balls as far as they could. Afterwards I devised a race in which the kid would be required to retrieve his partner's ball and return it to the tee (for the next kickers).

In this way, I reduced my workload to simply reciting instruction (I had already gotten my workout chasing balls), I increased the activity of the littl'uns (which is the point of the field day), and the kids enjoyed the new version more than the previous.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I observed field day for the fifth graders the following day at the same school. I applaud your revision of protocol for the ball kicking activity. If I had been in charge of some of the activities, I would have altered them as well. Some of them were kind of lame, but if the point was physcical activity and 'fun', then I guess all was well. The funniest one to watch was the sack race, where a kid would stand inside a pillowcase and hop. Some of the boys decided it was not cool to hold on to the piilowcase with their hands, so they just spread their feet further apart and let the case drop down around their ankles. Lots of fun. The capture-the-flag activity brought back lots of fond memories

Juan Carlos Bisso said...

Definitely a pareto improvement because everyone was better off, though hard to tell if the situation is pareto optimal. Perhaps you could have been even better off without affecting the kids' welfare (i.e., another pareto improvement) by bringing a chair and a cold soda with you.

Jeff Shepley said...

Hahah, thanks for humbling me, Juan Carlos. It isn't often that I make pareto improvements, but I surely should not try to pass them off as optimal solutions!