The Press Newspaper
The fourth grade GATE Destination ImagiNation Team from Woodmore Elementary School has set a new record at the school.
The team, Nick Bittel, Johanna Cutcher, Regan Draeger, Kiersten Flick, Phoebe Jackson, Marty Perkins, and Loren Taylor, not only placed first in both regional and state DI competitions, they were the first team ever to make it to the organization’s global competition.
Destination ImagiNation is a non-profit organization that fosters creative problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, collaboration and leadership skills. The goal is to nurture research and inquiry skills involving both creative exploration and attention to detail.
The organization is open to students from elementary school through college.
The organization, which began in 1999, boasts that 80,000 participants and 20,000 volunteers from 35 states and approximately 20 countries have taken part in its challenges.
Participants, in teams of seven, compete against other teams in order to best solve a challenge. Destination ImagiNation comes up with new challenges yearly in five categories: technical, scientific, theatrical, structural, improvisation, and philanthropic.
The organization holds regional and state competitions. First-place teams from the state tournaments are invited to the Global competition to compete against teams from across the country as well as the globe. This year’s global competition was held at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in May.
According to Krista Jackson, team coach, Woodmore has been involved with the organization for 10 years. Jackson has coached the team the last two years. The team placed second at regionals last year.
“Destination ImagiNation celebrates academics and out-of-the-box thinking,” Jackson said. “It pushes kids to be the future leaders. The kids get to grasp what they can do on their own, with their own imaginations and minds.”
Woodmore’s team, the Extreme Team, competed in the technical challenge known as “Assembly Required.” Teams in this division had to design and build a piece of mobile equipment that would pick up parts from a parts depot and transport those parts to an assembly area. After the product is assembled, the equipment was then used to transport products from the assembly area to the delivery area to fill orders.
Teams not only design their equipment, they also have to come up with a storyline and skit for their challenge. Coaches are not allowed to help the students come up with the idea for the equipment or the skit.
“The kids decided to use a broken lawnmower for the base of their machine,” Jackson said. “The storyline they came up with was they were wolves in sheep’s clothing trying to con the squirrels into getting fat so they could slow them down in order to eat them. The wolves had a restaurant that served nut pies and nut shakes to the squirrels in order to get them fat.”
The team was judged on the creativity of the equipment and the skit, and whether they were able to get 10 orders for products into the delivery area within eight minutes.
Although the Woodmore team’s equipment worked flawlessly at both regionals and state, the equipment had issues at the global tournament.
“They had a magnetic pulley that would pick the items up for delivery and it got bound up from overuse,” Jackson said. “The kids were just so calm when it happened. I have never seen a group of kids so calm. They came up with a Plan B and were able to complete nine out of the 10 orders. They really held up under pressure.”
The DI tournament also includes an “Instant Challenge,” Jackson said.
“The kids are put in room with judges and they are read a problem that they have not heard before,” Jackson said. “They had to figure out a way to use household items to get balls out of a wading pool. They had five minutes to plan and create their tool from the items and then three minutes to explain to the judges what their solution was. The scores from both challenges are then added up to see the final score.”
In the end, Woodmore placed fifth out of 58 teams. The winning team was from Beijing, China.
“If the machine would not have had problems and we would have been able to deliver all of our products, I believe we would have come in third,” Jackson said. “We were shocked and incredibly pleased with fifth place. I thought that if we placed in the middle of the pack, that would have been awesome. To place fifth was just incredible. The kids were disappointed, but they have plans to go next year and beat Beijing.”
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