NORTH SALT LAKE -- Little did April Giauque, a fifth-grade teacher at Spectrum Academy in North Salt Lake, know that a way to improve her son's reading ability could be as simple as pulling out some cups and stacking them in pyramid formation.
Giauque's son struggles with severe dyslexia.
"Since we have done cup stacking, his reading scores have increased by two grade levels," Giauque said. "As he crosses over with his hands and creates patterns, he strengthens both sides of his brain."
Getting both sides of his brain to work together is especially important, Giauque said, because those who struggle with dyslexia have parts of their brain that don't always work harmoniously together.
On Thursday, students from Spectrum Academy -- a charter school in North Salt Lake for students with Asperger's Syndrome and autism -- joined students at thousands of schools across the nation in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the world's largest sport stacking event.
The sport, commonly known as sport stacking, might be best described as a track meet for hands going at warp speed.
Schools are starting to jump onto the sport-stacking bandwagon as they see the direct benefits for students, especially those at Spectrum Academy.
Jandy Stelter, a fourth-grade teacher at the school, started the program with her students last year after learning about the sport's benefits.
"Speed stacking has gross motor benefits, which then lead to tracking benefits in the classroom," Stelter said.
She has some students in her class who are nonverbal, and others who are hyper-verbal, but when they start stacking the cups as fast as they can, she gets to see a new side of her students come out.
"Kids you would never expect to be in a race are trying to beat another student. It's nice to see that competitive edge come out in people who aren't necessarily competitive," Stelter said.
The competitive spirit came out in full force on Thursday as nearly 60 students from Spectrum Academy competed against each other and joined in the world- record attempt.
With last year's record set at 316,736 stackers worldwide in one day, this year's goal was set at 350,000 students in more than 30 countries.
It will take several weeks for Guinness World Records to conduct all of the paperwork for an official count.
Lisa Warren, who is the mother of a fifth-grader who struggles with autism, watched her son gain self-confidence while learning how to stack the cups up and down, each time trying to beat his previous time.
"It helps him feel good about himself as he keeps working to do it faster and faster. That also helps his brain stem grow, helps him to focus, and helps his small motor skills," Warren said.
Warren's son taught himself how to speed stack by watching YouTube videos. He begged for special speed-stacking cups for Christmas last year and now practices regularly at home.
The nice part about speed stacking, Stelter said, is that anyone can learn how to do it.
"Athletics aren't really for everyone, and sometimes kids will feel left out if they don't fit in with something," she said.
For her students, though, no one gets left out and everyone can participate in the speed-stacking activities. Stelter said, especially for autistic students, where losing can be difficult, speed stacking is a sport packed with competitive spirit where everyone is a winner.