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Roy teacher engages children, parents with community ‘dragon hunts’

By Ryan Aston - | Jun 5, 2024
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Local teacher George Pandoff has been hiding 3D-printed dragons and dragon eggs, like these, around Roy for kids and their parents to find.
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Local teacher George Pandoff has been hiding 3D-printed dragons and dragon eggs, like these, around Roy for kids and their parents to find.

ROY -- A local teacher is doing his part to get kids -- and their parents -- away from their screens and out into the world by way of a unique brand of community scavenger hunt.

George Pandoff, who teaches sixth grade at South Clearfield Elementary and also coaches a competitive VEX Robotics team, has been hiding 3D-printed dragons (and dragon eggs) around Roy for people to find.

After carefully placing his dragons, he posts alerts with photos and riddles or clues to a community Facebook group. Time permitting, he also remains nearby to update hunt progress, share photos or provide additional hints, if they're needed.

"It's one of those things that's for both adults and kids," Pandoff told the Standard-Examiner. "We all love dragons, you know?"

The Detroit native has been hiding his dragons since the spring, taking inspiration from a woman who has similarly hidden stuffed animals. Due to the inexpensive nature of materials for 3D printing and the sheer number of printers he has access to, Pandoff is able to hold regular hunts with multiple dragons.

And he plans to continue doing so year-round.

"The motivation behind it, besides just making a kid happy, is that it's getting parents and kids going out on the hunt and having fun together," Pandoff said. "Kids spend way too much time sitting indoors on their electronics."

Pandoff emphasized the inclusion of parents in the activity, recounting stories from his students about adults who become too focused on their own devices, and the longing it can create within their children.

"One of the kids brought up, 'I just wish my parents would get off their phone and pay attention to me.' And you could see that struck a nerve with so many kids. ... They're not paying attention to them," he said.

While Pandoff is essentially the master of ceremonies or game warden for local dragon hunts, the operation has become something of a family affair.

"My family, one, they laugh because we're all in," he said. "I'm seeing the community go nuts and they're also in on it, enjoying it, because my wife is a teacher, my daughter is a teacher and my other family members are also into the 3D printing."

3D printing has become a big part of Pandoff's teaching process. In his classroom, students learn to use a computer-aided drafting program create their own designs for printing. Pandoff says this allows students to see practical applications for mathematics and also provides them with opportunities to learn from their design triumphs and failures.

He also has used 3D printing to make learning more accessible by creating tactile learning aids.

"My blind students could learn the moon phases, which is something you can't physically touch and they will never see, but they were able to learn it because of 3D printing," Pandoff said.

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