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Allegheny

Montour Elementary kids make giant Terrible Towel out of Legos

| Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, 2:00 p.m.
Montour Elementary School fourth grader Jillian Kirkbride, 9, places the last black Lego on the school’s giant Terrible Towel as classmate Sam Dickson, 9, looks on. The school is hoping the Guinness Book of World Records will recognize the creation as the world’s largest Terrible Towel.
April Johnston
Montour Elementary School fourth grader Jillian Kirkbride, 9, places the last black Lego on the school’s giant Terrible Towel as classmate Sam Dickson, 9, looks on. The school is hoping the Guinness Book of World Records will recognize the creation as the world’s largest Terrible Towel.
STEM students at Montour Elementary School are constructing the world’s largest Terrible Towel, made entirely of Legos. Fourth graders, from left to right, Juliana Bregon, Jillian Kirkbride, Shane Lugaila, Danicka Richardson and Sam Dickson, all 9 years old, work on the lettering during class on Tuesday.
April Johnston
STEM students at Montour Elementary School are constructing the world’s largest Terrible Towel, made entirely of Legos. Fourth graders, from left to right, Juliana Bregon, Jillian Kirkbride, Shane Lugaila, Danicka Richardson and Sam Dickson, all 9 years old, work on the lettering during class on Tuesday.
Montour Elementary School STEM teacher Amanda McDermott helps her fourth graders finish the lettering on the school’s giant Terrible Towel, made entirely of Legos. They are hoping the Guinness Book of World Records will recognize the creation as the world’s largest Terrible Towel.
April Johnston
Montour Elementary School STEM teacher Amanda McDermott helps her fourth graders finish the lettering on the school’s giant Terrible Towel, made entirely of Legos. They are hoping the Guinness Book of World Records will recognize the creation as the world’s largest Terrible Towel.

How many Legos does it take to create the world’s largest Terrible Towel?

Montour Elementary School Principal Jason Burik has done the math, and he figures the answer is 34,560.

“Wow,” said fourth-grader Sam Dickson. “That’s a lot of Legos.”

Dickson is one of the Montour Elementary students who has been diligently placing Legos onto a roughly 6-by-4-foot board to create a replica of Myron Cope’s famous golden rally towel.

So far, the students have managed to complete all of the black lettering using tiny Legos. They’ll get some help on the rest Saturday, when they take their Terrible Towel to the Mall at Robinson STEM Fest. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., is an opportunity for community members to visit STEM-related exhibits, learn about STEM-related career fields and, just maybe, get their names in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Burik has applied to set the Terrible Towel record, and expects to hear back in about three months. If the record stands, everyone who places a yellow Lego on Saturday can claim to have been a part of building it.

“We’re always asking ourselves, ‘How can we take what we do in school and extend it to the community?’” said Justin Aglio, Montour’s Director of K-4 Academic Achievement and K-12 Innovation. “This is one of the ways.”

Legos have become a part of the culture at Montour Elementary. Last winter, the school built a Brick Makerspace above the library where students can use Legos to, for example, assemble a 3D model of the solar system or construct replicas of their houses and light them with homemade circuits.

STEM teacher Amanda McDermott, who has been working with fourth grade students on the design and construction of the Terrible Towel, said the hands-on nature of the school’s many Lego projects not only forces students to think about math and science in new ways, but it’s also fun.

“I have students begging to stay in for recess to finish a project,” McDermott said. “When your class rivals phys ed as the favorite, you know you’re doing something right.”

On Tuesday afternoon, as five fourth graders finished the lettering on their giant replica, McDermott explained the origins of the Terrible Towel, how Cope used it to whip up the crowd during mid-’70s playoff games and then sold the rights to the Allegheny Valley School in Coraopolis, where proceeds have helped students.

“What do you think Myron Cope would say about our Terrible Towel?” McDermott asked.

“Amazing!” Danicka Richardson declared, punching a fist into the air.

“Yeah, amazing,” Juliana Bregon agreed.

Dickson thought about it for a moment.

“Maybe he would be crying,” he said.

April Johnston is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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