CORCORAN — The familiar “Jeopardy!” theme music played as Brent Cooper’s fifth-grade class took their seats. This was not going to be the typical ho-hum classroom review session. Students divided into teams to play an interactive game that’s just like the popular quiz show seen on T.V., complete with buzzers, daily doubles — even the voice of host Alex Trebek.
Jimmy McGuire from the Jeopardy! Clue Crew demonstrated the new educational tool “Classroom Jeopardy!” to Mark Twain Elementary School students in Corcoran Monday.
As a member of the crew, McGuire travels the country and the world as a “roving correspondent,” taping visual clues that are incorporated into the Emmy award-winning quiz show. In addition to his “clue duties,” McGuire hosts various events to promote education.
“Many teachers have used ‘Jeopardy!’ to help their students review for exams,” McGuire said. “But it is usually some homemade version, where they have to write a lot of stuff down, utilize dry-erase boards and come up with clues. This game eliminates the need for all of that extra work.”
“Classroom Jeopardy!” is the electronic version of the quiz show that brings the familiar sights and sounds of the show directly into the classroom. The game was created by Educational Insights, a leading producer of interactive and hands-on learning materials.
The game plugs into a television and the scoreboard is seen on the screen with all the point values. The categories are all determined by the instructor and their curriculum, based on what they program into the game through their computer.
Students have wireless buzzers to ring in with and paddles to write their “Final Jeopardy” answers on. The teachers have wireless controllers to select categories, point values and determine whether or not an answer is correct. Each question is timed by the game, which will not let anyone answer until after the entire clue has been announced.
McGuire donated “Classroom Jeopardy!” to Mark Twain Elementary on behalf of the quiz show and Fresno television station KFSN Channel 30 for the entire student body to enjoy. The game normally retails for around $100. The “Clue Crew” has visited more than 50 schools nationwide, playing the game with students and donating the system to each school.
“Jeopardy!” visited Mark Twain at the suggestion of Karen Griffith, the supervising producer for another hit game show, “Wheel of Fortune.” She grew up in Corcoran and attended John C. Fremont Elementary School and John Muir Middle School before graduating from Corcoran High School in 1973.
She had heard that the clue crew was planning to visit West Fresno Elementary in Fresno and asked if Corcoran could be included as a stop while they were out.
“Karen has and continues to give back to Corcoran-area schools ever since she left,” said Mike Anderson, principal at Mark Twain. “At her request, producers and the clue crew called and got things set up. We chose Brent Cooper’s class, because, like Karen, he had grown up here. He also does amazing things for his students.”
Cooper was excited to take part in the opportunity, and make learning exciting for his class.
“They asked me, ‘you want to have your kids play Jeopardy?’” he said. “And I said ‘Heck, yeah!’ This is a great learning tool that gets kids motivated to learn.”
After the demonstration, the students received a free “Jeopardy!” hat and proceeded out to the playground to discuss their day on a game show.
“It was a blast,” said Emiliano Zepeda. “I had so much fun. I want to play it again.”
The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or bsantiago@HanfordSentinel.com.