Where in the world is Muscle Bob Buff Pants?
April 21, 2009
By Chantelle Lusebrink
Sunset Elementary School students learn while tracking him down
Wild adventures among ancient ruins in Cancun, Mexico; spring training with the Mariners in Peoria, Ariz.; and rustlin’ up grub in San Antonio, Texas. With all that travel, it’s a wonder this student can keep up with his homework.
Though fifth-grader Muscle Bob Buff Pants — a stuffed replica of the famous cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants — can’t leave the classroom on his own, he has hit the road with several of his classmates to see parts of the world people dream of.
“He’s a class mascot that travels home with the teachers or the students for the weekend,” said Lisa Stix, a fifth-grade teacher at Sunset Elementary School. “He has mostly traveled around town locally, to kids’ games or to the Seattle Center, but he has also traveled with students who are going out of town on vacations.”Stix and her teaching partner, Gina Montgomery, share the fifth-grade class as part-time teachers. Stix specializes in writing and came up with the idea of a class mascot, not only to make the class memorable, but also to improve her students’ writing proficiency.
“Though it’s fun, it’s a way to work on their writing skills. Each student that takes him home has to write about his travels and take pictures,” she said.
Students ask to bring Muscle Bob home on the weekend. Or, when there is a schoolwide break, students tell other classmates where they are going and they vote who to send Muscle Bob home with, she said.
The class voted to have Muscle Bob travel to New York at Thanksgiving and to the University of Southern California and Maui earlier this year.
When they return, students share their narrative adventures with the class in a presentation. They tell their story from Muscle Bob’s perspective, download photos of their adventure into their presentation and share a little about the places they went, like the culture, weather, food and geography.
“The best place was Mexico, because it was international and out of the country,” said Naoki Kida, a student in the class who took Muscle Bob to Peoria for the Mariners’ spring training.
“I really learned about the culture and it was very interesting,” said Kayleigh Bangs, the student who took him to Mexico. “We went to the pyramid there, and it was really big and crumbling a little.”
Kayleigh and her family made sure Muscle Bob visited one of the largest Mayan pyramids at Chichén Itzá on the Yucatan Peninsula along Mexico’s gulf coast.
“It’s just so neat to see what they come up with and not just the students who have him travel with them,” Stix said. “There’s everything from daily life, where one student showed Bob pulling a consequence out of their family’s consequence jar and the ‘here’s what life is like at my house’ to car rides, plane trips and walks along tropical beaches.
“It’s also been fun to see all the pictures of their families and extended family, like aunts and cousins,” she added.
The class project has drawn schoolwide interest since fall.
“It’s grown into a huge project,” Stix said. “In fact, we had a board here where we mapped his journeys, but then we ran out of room, so we put up a board down near the lunchroom.”
The board takes up one wall of the hallway and is filled with strings to places he’s been, essays about his travels and photos from his trips, so others can learn about places inside and outside Washington.
“It kind of makes me want to visit Mexico,” said student Lauren Longo.
“I want to go to Texas, because I’ve never been there,” said Caroline Mull, another student. “It sounds like a fun place to go and it’s hot.”
Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment on this article at www.issaquahpress.com.