Physical education teacher Andrew Beckner shares this creative cosmic bowling activity that he uses for his PE class.
One week per school year, the lights are turned out in the gym, but the students’ energy levels are turned way up! It’s cosmic bowling time. The same cosmic bowling that most adults have had the opportunity to enjoy at least once in their lives.
Gym Set-up for Cosmic Bowling
For this event, the gym is illuminated with a combination of holiday (Christmas) lights, and two disco type colored lights that change patterns (the smallest version of the ION Audio Block Party). Finally, we projected a visual effects scrambler design that can be displayed through Windows Media Player, by placing the projector on the other side of the gym. This stretched the image across the whole wall. Next, my teaching partner and I set up 12 “lanes” of plastic bowling pins. Since it can be a little difficult to see whose pins are whose in the dark, we put colored tape on the top of each pin, as well as matching colored tape on the floor where each pin should be reset.
Over the years we have acquired 12 rubber bowling balls, but Gator Skin balls have been used as well. For differentiation, you can use larger or smaller balls to match the needs of your students.
Instructions for Cosmic Bowling
One student rolls the ball down, another stops the ball by trapping it (with their foot, for safety), rolls the ball back, then the bowler takes their second turn. The pins are then reset and the students switch.
The motivation for a cosmic bowling lesson came when a student expressed that they had never been bowling, and didn’t know what bowling with the lights off was. They had heard about it from another student and were curious. Cosmic bowling exposes students to a lifetime skill which they may not otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy. Students work on balance, coordination, stepping in opposition, hitting a target, and muscular strength when they throw the ball. When teaching the students about how to score, they are also using math skills in a cross-curricular capacity!
To add a little more of a fitness aspect to the activity, students were given sheets with the numbers 1-10 on them. Each number had an exercise on it. However many pins they knocked over with a combination of their two rolls determined which exercise they would do before switching with their partner (who was resetting the pins).
Students should be exposed to an array of different lifetime skills and activities. Bowling is one that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It also makes a connection to those students who are more motivated by the idea of individual success, as opposed to some of the pressures that come with team based sports.
We look forward to seeing the excitement on the students’ faces each year when they are able to do cosmic bowling in a safe and caring environment. The smile on a student’s face the first time they bowl a strike or spare is priceless!
Check out his video on the PE Central Page!
About the Author:
Drew Beckner is a PE/Health Teacher from Ridge Meadows Elementary in Ballwin, Missouri. Follow him on Twitter: @BecknerPE
Any chance you can send me the exact type of lights you used for this activity.
There are so many on the market and I am not sure what I will need to light up my gym.
Based on the picture my gym is slightly larger than yours.
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I have been doing this for several years. We did it as part of field day last year. I have 12 bowling lanes and we put up black lights and have two mirror balls and shine colored lights on them. The kids wear white and love the black lights. It is a hit! On field day we invited the parents to come bowl with their child!