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The weather in California is way warmer than it is in Alaska, but that didn’t stop a group of kids from staging an “Ikidarod” sled race on the beach in Mission Hills, California. There wasn’t any snow, and there weren’t any dogs, either—kids provided the pulling power in this race, which was dreamed up by a teacher at the Francis Parker School as a fun way to teach kids about math, history, and geography. Students earned points for best time, correctly answering questions, teamwork, and sportsmanship.

The Ikidarod gets two paws up from us. It’s a lot kinder than the Iditarod, in which dogs are forced to run more than 1,100 miles—roughly the distance from Boston to St. Louis! Not surprisingly, many dogs can’t finish because of illness and injuries, and others are so tired and sore that they can barely stagger across the finish line. The race is so harsh that at least one dog—and sometimes up to a dozen dogs—die every year.

Some schools assign students to track Iditarod mushers during the race. If your teacher is planning an Iditarod project, suggest an alternative like the Ikidarod—or tracking a long-distance bicycle or boat race—that doesn’t involve the suffering and death of innocent dogs.

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