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Duct tape takes on worldly status

By Jodi Cecil
Times Correspondent

DARLINGTON -- Not many people can say they own duct tape from the International Space Station. But Dick Anderson, woods technology teacher at Darlington High School can say it -- and that he owns duct tape from all 50 states.

Anderson began collecting duct tape about two years ago when his Odyssey of the Mind team traveled to Maryland for the World Finals. He explained that the event is a time when students meet one another and exchange pins, of which he also has quite a collection. Two years ago, he had a brainstorm -- that they would begin exchanging and collecting rolls of duct tape instead.

"Every state we passed through, we got a roll of duct tape," he explained. The group got each roll signed by a resident of the state it came from, mostly by the cashiers they bought the tape from. The World Finals also draws 15 to 20 countries each year, so the team began collecting tape from foreign countries, 31 so far.

Anderson started the collection to give his Odyssey of the Mind students an interesting way to interact.

"It's a fantastic way of meeting other people and conversing," Anderson said.

Anderson has met a few goals in his collection, including collecting duct tape from every state and from each of the seven continents. He noted that Antarctica was the most difficult continent to get tape from.

Anderson has collected many rolls of tape by writing and requesting it as well. Most people have reacted well and complied with his request, he said.

For example, Anderson read that Jeff Williams, originally from Winter, Wis., would be part of Expedition 13 to the International Space Station. He wrote to Williams' parents, who still live in Winter, and they passed the request on to Williams.

"He made a project out of it," Anderson said. Anderson received a file folder from the International Space Station, covered in duct tape and signed by 15 astronauts. "It's fantastic. It traveled over 74 million miles to get to Darlington."

Anderson is far from done with his collection. Now that his students have collected tape from all 50 states and the seven continents, he wants to finish the collection by getting tape from all the world's countries. Anderson has about 175 to go. Being the problem-solver he is, Anderson breaks the goal down into more manageable goals. He is now working to get duct tape from each country in the United Nations and all the Darlingtons in the United States.

Anderson's collection is believed to be the largest such one in the world.

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