Three Orange Schools teams have discovered an adventure in teamwork as they journey on their paths of imagination. And now, after months of preparation, one Brady Middle School team and two Moreland Hills Elementary School teams are ready to enter the world of creativity known as "Destination ImagiNation."“It’s fun, and we get to build stuff, and I really like building stuff,” said fourth grader Anna Wolf.
“I love acting and building, and I get to act and build with a lot of my friends. It’s awesome!” added third grade teammate Lily Boardman. “I want to go all the way to Globals!”
It’s a realistic dream. Two Orange Schools teams made it past the district and regional competitions to get to the international competition last year. Known more commonly as "DI", Destination ImagiNation is a creative problem-solving, process-oriented program that exists in 48 states and more than 30 countries. Student teams work together without adult interference to solve open-ended challenges and present their solutions at tournaments in a myriad of clever ways.
“It’s tricky (as a parent) because we’re supposed to be team managers, moreso than coaches,” said Team Creative Monkeys advisor Lissy Rand. “We’re not allowed to tell the kids what to do and that is very challenging. I think that’s very different from how we tend to parent so we have to let all of the ideas bubble up from them and not direct them.”
Teams are tested on how well and quickly they think on their feet, work together, and devise creative, original solutions that satisfy specific requirements. The idea is that students are inspired to become a global community of learners that utilize diverse approaches in applying 21st Century Skills in a creative, engaging way. Each of the seven challenges incorporates "STEM" (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as well as the arts and service education. The students must work together in teams to interpret and solve a main challenge that they perform at the competition. In addition there is an element of surprise as teams must also complete an “Instant Challenge” that they have to solve on the spot. The Team Challenge comes with six topic choices, all with multiple assessments.
“The kids describe the experience as life-changing,” said gifted teacher and advisor Maggie Gobetz who oversees the program with BMS gifted teacher Jennifer McGeown. “When you think about what DI asks of kids, and how they rise to the challenge, it's amazing to see how much kids gain-- not just in the ability to be flexible problem solvers or quick on their feet, but to see the way they better relate to each other and the confidence and self-assurance they have gained. It is pretty life-changing!”
Orange Schools have been involved in the DI program for more than 20 years. The members of Team Hedgehog Factory, comprised of sixth graders, have been competing as a team for three years, earning a placement in the top five at the Global Competition last year.
“There’s not a certain score that you need to be amazing. You could have a zero but you can still love what you do and be awesome,” said Hedgehog member sixth grader Mason Lurie. “ It takes a lot of work to get to be really good at it, but the work isn’t really work, it’s just fun, most of the time. I love that it’s a good way to just get out your energy and just say your ideas and no one can blame you for it. No matter how crazy something can be it can still be awesome. You make great friends. And no matter what you get to be yourself!”
Individual members of the other two teams, 'Creative Monkeys' and 'Don't Let the Humans in the Scene', have competed before but this is the first year for each group as a team.
This is fifth grader Macy Fletcher’s first year competing.
“I like that you get to be creative with everyone’s ideas and then incorporate them all," she said. The hardest part is when we can’t agree on something. We have learned that we need to incorporate everyone's ideas so everyone can be happy with what we do. We compromise.
And fan support means everything to these students.
“It’s important to have people there to see us and give us moral support. That empowers us,” noted Hedgehog member sixth grader Jaden Polster. “There are skits and so many things going on. I love interacting with my friends and the craziness of it all.”
“Sometimes you can solve world global problems and sometimes it can just be imaginative,” said fifth grader Piper Anderson. “Coming to see us might inspire others to do Destination Imagination.”
Team Hedgehog includes Lyla Berns, Clara
Briskin, Katie Kapp, Mason Lurie, Jaden Polster and Abby Thompson. Team Creative Monkeys includes Piper Anderson, Meghna Bettaiah, Sadie & Megan Conway, Macy Fletcher, and Max Outcalt. Team Don't let the humans in the scene includes Lily Boardman, Sarah Friedlander, Luke Hastings, Divij Sasidhar, Jasmine Shone, and Anna Wolf.
Students will compete in the District competition on Saturday, March 14, 2015 at Beachwood High School. Rand encourages everyone from the community to attend.
“It’s super fun to see what these kids come up with,” she said. “They have got boundless creativity. It blows your mind how creative they can be.”
The Orange Schools Destination Imagination teams compete at Beachwood High School, 25100 Fairmount Blvd., on Saturday, March 14, 2015 between 8:30am - 6:00pm. For more specific times/information, please contact Maggie Gobetz at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jennifer McGeown at email@example.com.