By Bob Zoellner
Most 9-year-old girls are busy trying to figure out school and socialization in the age of quarantine.
Cooper Dean of Valrico isn’t most girls.
Cooper, a third grader at Lithia Springs Elementary School, is waiting to see if a game she invented could soon end up on store shelves for others to play too.
She recently won a nationwide contest with her submission of Chicken Poo Bingo, a tabletop game she came up with after seeing a real-life depiction while camping.
“The real version exists in many campgrounds,” said Jennifer Dean, Cooper’s mother. “She thought it would be fun to create a kids version at home.”
After becoming aware of the People of Play’s annual Young Inventor Challenge (YIC) through her father, Ryan Dean, she set out to make the board and pieces for a functional game.
The premise is for the chicken to ‘poop’ out candy onto a master bingo board and players try to fill up the squares on their card, just like in a bingo hall. The winner gets candy, which adds to the fun.
In the real-life version, chickens are enticed by players with feed to come to a square and ‘mark it’ while Cooper uses a windup chicken she got in an Easter basket that waddles around the board and makes deposits on the numbers.
While Cooper has come up with other games, her recent camping trip and the timing of the contest brought this one to fruition, which was a three-week project with her father’s help.
“I have other ideas,” she said. “I thought this would be fun for the family too.”
Before the coronavirus cancelled a lot of in-person gatherings, Jennifer said Cooper would have gone to New York for a ceremony announcing her as the junior winner for the Best Game Concept, a category sponsored by Goliath Games. Instead, she got to watch a virtual awards show with her family, celebrating with excited dancing and cheers alongside her 6-year-old brother, Brooks Dean.
While past winners of the contest, which is open to kids 6-18 years of age, have seen their game concepts brought to market, it isn’t a given. But the possibility is there, with the process now including some fine tuning.
“They might make it,” Jennifer said. “She has to come up with ways to make it better, to refine it, to make a perfect product.”
See Cooper’s YIC submission video at https://youtu.be/o-RM1oGntN4.