Taylor Sharpe
Eisenhower Junior High School music teacher Laurie Letz leads a group of 487 students, teachers and volunteers in a world record attempt to assemble largest wobble board musical ensemble.

TAYLORSVILLE — Nearly 500 students wiggled their wobble boards to a world record last weekend.

Students at Eisenhower Junior High School have been tackling world records for 20 years, and getting 487 people to wiggle the red, white and black Masonite boards for more than five minutes straight took more than a year to accomplish, said Tom Sharpe, science teacher and world-record organizer at the school.

"It's something that gets the kids involved, gets them focused and gives them direction, and it's something we can tie all kinds of education to," he said. Students come up with the idea and have to find ways to make it happen, whether it involves math, science or sheer creativity.

Ninth-graders had been staying after school all week to complete the feat, which included keeping the hundreds of students organized, painting 500 boards donated by Lowe's and advertising the event throughout the school in order to have enough participants.

The sound of the boards bending back and forth reverberated throughout the gymnasium at Eisenhower, a sound ninth-grade Fatimah Kamara remembers hearing in Africa years ago.

"It's a lot like drums like they use in African culture," she said. She and her friends were excited to have been a part of breaking the world record with wobble boards. Students who participated got to keep their boards, and the sound continued through the halls long after school let out for the day.

"It's all about giving students a reason to connect to their school," said Nancy Jadallah, Eisenhower's principal. Jadallah is proud of her students, who now hold eight world records, including the largest pan-loaf of bread, longest paper clip chain, fastest human conveyor belt, longest balloon chain in one hour, tallest ice cream cone, largest straw chain and tallest tower of pencils.

"Attempting world records is more than fun," she said. "They also teach important educational skills to students, including creativity, organization, cooperation, communications and logistics."

According to Guinness, the current world record for the World's Largest Musical Instrument Ensemble (for unconventional instruments) is held by 359 employees at a business in England. They played to the tune of Rolf Harris' 1960s hit, "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" earlier this year. The song was written containing the wobble sound, which is made by propping the 2-by-3-foot hardboards between the palms of the hands and bouncing them back and forth, accenting every second beat, or off-beat.

Sharpe said an Australian group has a pending record-breaking application, in which they performed a similar stunt with 402 people. The 487 students, teachers and volunteers at Eisenhower performed the wobble board ensemble to the same tune after only one practice run on Nov. 9. Some wore earplugs in their ears and gloves on their hands to save them from the wear and tear of playing five minutes and 16 seconds nonstop.

"I guess the Aussies will have to try a little harder," he told the group, whose cheers filled the school's gymnasium.

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