Like the mythical Atlas, Cameron Frisch suddenly had the weight of the world on her shoulders.
At least the weight of possibly choosing the wrong piece to pluck and sending the imposing Jenga tower before her tumbling to the classroom floor.
How did the Hermosa Beach, Calif. teenager find herself in this predicament?
Just another day in “Research Skills Needed for College,” one of a raft of courses meant to introduce college skills and rigor to students enrolled in Summer for Success, the three-week summer college-immersion program for high schoolers developed at Beacon College in Leesburg, Fla.
On Wednesday, the class received instruction in creating perfect keyword strings to power Google searches.
However, instructor Tiffany Reitz, Beacon’s director of library resources, decided to inject a bit of fun.
She divided students into teams. She gave teammates a sheet with a six-square color-coded grid. One grid challenged students to choose the right search terms by striking out non-essential words in six Google-like search questions. Another grid directed students to identify specific components of search pages. Another grid focused on identifying Google search operators such as conjunctions and punctuation marks and explaining how each affected searches. And so on.
Teams selected a color and performed the directed tasks in the grid. Teams earned a point for a correct answer and earned a second point for successfully extracting a Jenga block without implosion.
“Alright Cameron and Alex, you’re up,” Reitz said.
Cameron took to the white board as her teammate Alexander Amirkhosravi of Longwood, Fla. stood by to offer wise counsel.
She carefully scribbled on the board the search query: My kitten has an eraser-sized bump toward the top of her leg. What is it?
Cameron and Alexander conferred, and whittled down the sentence to its essence, circling essential words.
“What do you think is appropriate,” Cameron asked.
“Why don’t you put all the terms you would type into Google,” Reitz suggested.
And she did.
Kitten small bump toward top leg.
“I don’t think you should use ‘toward,’ but ‘on top leg’,” Alexander offered.
After another pass through, the duo settled on: kitten small bump top leg.
“Research can be a frustrating and overwhelming process,” Reitz said. “As students will be completing many research assignments throughout their college experience, these skills can be huge timesavers, as well as making the process less stressful.”
Tell that to Cameron, who, with the search query mastered, now confronted Jenga peril.
With Alexander gazing his support, Cameron approached the potential tower of Pisa with a skeptic’s eye.
She looked at the Jenga-skyscrapper from the front.
From the back.
From the sides.
Then she made her move.
Purple-tinged block in her hand — and no crash — she returned to her seat, triumphantly.
Whoops! That’s a search engine for another day.