D.C. students attempt to set Guinness world record for bubble-wrap-popping

More than 600 students gathered on the tennis courts at Lafayette Elementary School in Washington to attempt to set the Guinness World Record for most people popping bubble wrap at same time. (Nikki Kahn and Jacques Ledbetter/The Washington Post)

The tennis courts at Northwest Washington’s Lafayette Elementary became the scene of a snap-crackle-pop symphony Friday afternoon as hundreds of students attempted to set a Guinness World Record for the most people popping bubble wrap at the same time.

“It’s awesome! All the noise,” said 10-year-old Zackery Wall, absorbing the cacophony as he worked on his own scrap of bubble wrap, one bubble at a time.

The mass bubble-popping was fifth-grader Doug Cohen’s idea. He made it a key plank in his campaign platform when he ran for student council president last fall.

“I wanted more school spirit, and I thought it would be fun,” Doug said.

He pored through the Guinness Book of World Records to find a doable challenge and discovered that the current record for simultaneous bubble-wrap popping is something around 580 people.

Doug’s campaign promise was a winner. He was elected, and Lafayette piled more than 650 people onto the tennis courts Friday.

Each child was armed with bubble-wrap purchased from Staples — total cost: $48 — and then carefully cut into squares by Doug and his fellow student council members.

They managed — heroically — not to begin popping until they were given the word, and then they popped for two minutes straight. Afterwards, they erupted in cheers and jumped to their feet, hopping on the bubble wrap to finish the popping.

More than a dozen volunteers served as official observers, making written records of what they had witnessed. All that documentation now has to be sent to Guinness before Lafayette can be declared a world-record holder.

But it doesn’t much matter what happens with the world record. It was the last Friday in May, a warm and sunny afternoon, with the year’s big tests firmly in the rearview mirror and a pile of end-of-year field trips and projects and parties to look forward to. It was something the whole school did together, and it was fun.

“That’s going to be one of my best memories of Lafayette,” said student council secretary Weston Duncan, who is headed off to middle school next year.

“It was definitely a success,” Doug said.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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