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Success on a plate for new sixth year

An induction day was magically transformed into a riotous game show which sent the new sixth year at Aberdeen Grammar spinning last week - plate-spinning, to be precise.

After morning talks on university life, careers and financial management, the 150 teenagers were treated to an afternoon of colourful quickfire challenges, dished up by motivational entertainment com-pany Fifth Dimension.

Plate-spinning, balloon modelling, quizzes, logic puzzles and a longer-term challenge to create a visually and verbally engaging presentation, raised the fun level in the room, as 12 teams noisily competed against the clock and each other. Cheesy game show music, jokes and banter added to the carnival atmosphere, but underpinning the laughter and excitement were important messages about working creatively as a team.

"Remember, you have a wide breadth of expertise to draw on when in a team, so use the skills of your members. A team should be able to out-perform any individual member, and you might find this useful when studying for your exams. Why not get together in a group to share your information and knowledge?" These suggestions, along with many other hints and tips, were slipped in by Jeff Burns and his colleagues Ivor Smith and Bill Duncan. With backgrounds in chartered accountancy, marketing and magic, the trio have perfected the art of balancing entertainment with life skills learning, after three years of delivering team-building training to companies in and around Aberdeen.

"We believe using comedy and magic is a great way of demonstrating key themes and learning points, and we find this approach goes down well with all kinds of organisations," Ivor Smith said.

Fifth Dimension entered the educational arena last June, piloting its two-hour "show" at Aberdeen Grammar, whose teachers were so impressed that they invited the trio back.

"Today is all about building trust, improving communication and working effectively as a team - we want to help young people to understand that team-working in all walks of life can be exciting and creative, and to inspire them to take that attitude into the world of work," Jeff Burns said. He added: "The guidance teachers support us by doing follow-up work, to reinforce the messages we're putting across."

Bill Johnston, the rector, said: "All the time they're having fun, the students are learning about communication, project-management, planning, time-management and problem-solving - skills that will stand them in good stead throughout their lives."

Fifth Dimension: tel 01224 706755

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