Education

Fidget spinners are a craze in Lexington stores and schools. Have you seen one yet?

Some schools ban fidget spinners. These students are making and selling them.

Students in Art Hardin's pre-engineering class at EJ Hayes Middle School are making fidget spinners, the latest handheld toy craze, and selling them as a fundraiser for pre-engineering lab equipment.
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Students in Art Hardin's pre-engineering class at EJ Hayes Middle School are making fidget spinners, the latest handheld toy craze, and selling them as a fundraiser for pre-engineering lab equipment.

At the FYE store at Fayette Mall, assistant manager Tyler Calder said that if an order of 80 fidget spinners arrives on a Thursday, the hot new toy is sold out by Saturday morning.

“I probably receive close to 25, 30 calls a day, asking if we still have them,” Calder said.

Fidget spinners, some of which sell for $9.99, have become popular with the elementary and middle school set in Lexington and nationwide to the point that some principals must decide whether to allow them in the classroom.

The New York Times reported on the craze last week, describing fidget spinners as three-prong or snowflake-shape devices made of plastic or metal and fitted with ball bearings, allowing them to spin between users’ fingertips.

They have been marketed as a tool for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, to help them focus, the Times reported. But some schools nationwide are viewing them as a distraction and have banned them.

In Lexington, Fayette County school principals have made various decisions, depending on whether fidget spinners distract students at a given school.

“We are not allowing the fidget spinners in classrooms because they have become more of a distraction than a focus tool,” Crawford Middle School principal Mike Jones said. “Fidgets have been very successful with certain students in the past, but the popularity of the spinner has created an overall distraction in classrooms. These have become more of a toy than a tool.”

Other principals are monitoring their use but allowing them for now.

“They have recently, over the past two to three weeks, become very popular,” said Robin Steiner, principal of Dixie Magnet Elementary School. “Thus far, they have not been a distraction.”

Winburn Middle principal Whitney Allison made a similar determination, as has Stonewall Elementary principal Bill Gatliff.

“The kids love them, and to be honest, so do I,” Gatliff said. “Sometimes when I do see the kids with them at lunch or at different times in the building, I will ask them if I can play with them for just a second, as I find them quite amusing. My rule is that basically as long as they are not distracting others and that you were using them appropriately, it is not a big deal. They are just the latest craze.”

Morton Middle School principal Ronda Runyon said she allows them as long as they don’t interfere with student learning. “The ones that light up are a distraction, so we have asked the students not to bring them to school,” Runyon said.

Otherwise, “the fidget is age-appropriate and, for students who need something to help them stay focused, it seems to work. They are very popular.”

Edythe J. Hayes Middle School principal David Hoskins said he sees “some benefit with the spinners for students with ADHD. Much of it is teaching kids how to use them appropriately.”

“Our engineering technology teacher is actually making the spinners with his classes, using our new 3D printer,” Hoskins said.

That teacher, Art Hardin, said students asked him if they could make fidget spinners. They are learning to design them and have decided to sell what they make to raise money for supplies for their engineering laboratory. They will sell the fidget spinners to other students at prices between $3 and $15, depending on how many ball bearings the devices have.

Eighth-grader Trent Hutchinson said he has had a fidget spinner for about two weeks, and in Hardin’s class he is learning how to design one on a 3D printer.

Hardin said a student told him that “he saw how what he has learned in geometry is now applying to what he’s doing on the 3D software by making these designs.”

Also, Hardin said, students are applying what they learn in his class to other academic courses.

“We’re learning a little about entrepreneurial skills because we are learning about cost, supply and demand, and we’ve got a much greater demand than I have supply right now,” he said.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears

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