Dorothy Schabeck explains her ‘G.G.’s Red/Blue Electoral College Game,’ which helps teachers explain to middle and high school students how the Electoral College elects the president. Like many Americans, she says she didn’t understand the system outlined by the Constitution. Teacher’s Discovery sells the game.
Dorothy Schabeck said she realized she didn’t really understand the long-standing process of electing presidents in the United States when she saw states on a televised map lighting up red or blue while awaiting the 2008 presidential election returns.
“That’s what intrigued me, seeing the colors on the map,” Mrs. Schabeck, now 94, said. “I just didn’t know what the Electoral College was, so I started to read about it and learn about it.”
She figured she wasn’t alone.
Although a fundamental in U.S. history and a basic aspect of elections, the concept of the Electoral College is often not well understood. So, why not create a game for two teams that includes a map, questions about elections, and red and blue markers to fill in the states?
“One of these crazy things that happens at night,” she said. “I couldn’t sleep and it came into my head.”
After nights of mulling over pages of her written thoughts and months to figure out who might be interested, the Toledoan saw her concept through to reality.
In the January edition of the Teacher’s Discovery catalog was a new product — G.G.’s Red/Blue Electoral College Game. Consisting of a write-’n-wipe map, 100 game cards, a spin wheel, and both red and blue dry erase markers, the game is geared for middle school and high school students. The purpose is to teach the fundamentals of the American election process while students earn electoral votes for their team — either the Republicans, signified by red, or the Democrats, who color their winning states blue.
Inventor Dorothy Schabeck, 84, from Toledo, holds the rules of her game "'G.G.'s Red/Blue Electoral College Game" at her home in Toledo. The picture on the front is a drawing that was rendered from an actual photograph of Mrs. Schabeck on a motorcycle.
A brief description of the Electoral College and a brief biography of Mrs. Schabeck are included in the instruction booklet.
“She called one day and talked to a customer service representative who transferred her to me. Dorothy was 92 and had this amazing idea,” said Alicia Manduzzi, the social studies merchandise manager of the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based company. “She sent me a game that she created. She had it all on loose-leaf paper. She wrote out all her ideas, wrote out every single question she thought should be there and we took it from there.”
Mrs. Schabeck, a 1939 University of Toledo graduate who majored in French, said she learned of Teacher’s Discovery after calling around to several people, including local boards of education.
Ms. Manduzzi said Teacher’s Discovery is an educational publishing firm that specializes in supplemental materials for the classroom.
In business for about 30 years, the firm sells items related to teaching foreign language, social studies, science, and English.
It was, Mrs. Schabeck said, a perfect fit. She did not have to use any of her money and will receive 7 percent of the net profits. She even got to pick the name.
As she watched the 2008 presidential election unfold, Dorothy Schabeck wanted the answer to the question on the card, and that answer led her to devise the game. Professor David Davis of the University of Toledo has a copy and is thinking of revising the rules for college students.
“It stands for great-grandmother,” she said.
The game sells for $39.95 and can be purchased on the company’s Web site, teachersdiscovery.com, in the Social Studies category.
David Davis, a UT professor of political science, has a copy. He said he played the game with his students in his presidency course.
“The students just loved it. I’m planning to do it again it in the fall, but maybe change some of the rules to make a college variation,” Mr. Davis said. “[The Electoral College is] a great mystery to many people. And funny things can happen as we saw in the 2000 election,” he added.
About 20 of the games have been sold so far, Ms. Manduzzi said. And more are expected as the election season nears. That’s exciting for Mrs. Schabeck, but it’s not what is occupying her mind just now. “I just wrote the school [for] the arts with an idea that I’d like them to pursue,” she said.
She’ll give you a hint: It involves music. But otherwise, you’ll have to wait until her next big idea hits the shelves.
Contact Erica Blake at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.