A group of 10 students from Sandowne Elementary have returned from the provincial Destination Imagination championships in Surrey with championship medals, earning them an invitation to the global championships in Knoxville, Tennessee.
What the heck does that even mean? What’s Destination Imagination?”
“What it is,” says Rod Beavis, one of the two teachers who organized the school’s teams, “is you get these kids together and you present them with creative challenges they’ve got to solve as a team.”
Sound simple enough, right?
Well, those challenges range from engineering something that can hold as much weight as possible using specific materials that don’t have much strength themselves, to creating a play that will incorporate improvisational elements, and there are different ones presented each year.
What the challenge itself is, however, isn’t the important part. It’s not even the success of completing it, necessarily that scores the most points.
“It’s about creative problem solving and teamwork,” Beavis says. “It’s about collaboration and communication,” he adds, recounting the story of a team who won their category without even completing their challenge, because of the way they worked together while they made their attempt.
Beavis took a team to regionals last year, and this year he thought it would be neat to get another teacher on board to form a team, as well. So in stepped Chris Lewis.
“I just thought it would be fun,” he says with a laugh.
And fun it was, though it took a lot of time and effort, as well.
“My team was at it every day on every break and after school for a solid two weeks,” he says. “But the reward of their faces – just the energy and enthusiasm that the kids got out of it, was more than worth all that time we put in.”
Lewis’ team’s challenge was to create a structure that could bear weight, could double as a musical instrument, and didn’t weigh more than a Frisbee. Then they had to somehow write a story that had this contraption in it.
And they did exactly that, and brought it along with them to the contest.
The team challenge Beavis’ team chose this year was to write a “mystery play,” he says, where they had to write an perform a play that had three possible suspects and one investigator, and they didn’t get to know which suspect was the guilty one until they were on stage performing it.
And these challenges are timed, as well.
“They had, I think, eight minutes to put up their stage, perform their play and take everything down,” Beavis says.
Then there are the instant challenges, which are given to the teams on the spot at the competition, and aren’t even necessarily in their own discipline.
“They can be either building challenges or fine arts challenges,” Lewis says.
“And we can’t tell you anything about them,” Beavis says, in all seriousness, “so don’t even ask. We can’t say anything about what they did in those until after the global finals at the end of May.”
“It’s a super secret awesomeness challenge that the kids loved,” Lewis says. “But that’s all we can say.”
But whatever it was, it was a blast for these kids, the pair agree, and next year they’re hoping even more teachers share in the fun after seeing the response from the students.
“It’s a great way to snag these kinds of students that, you know, are maybe square pegs that are trying to fit into a round hole,” Beavis says.
“Some kids are just so outside the box that you need to give them outside the box things for them to shine,” Lewis agrees.
Next year, Beavis and Lewis say, they’re also going to start fundraising early so they can actually go to Knoxville should a team or two garner an invitation to do so, now that they know that’s a real possibility.
For more information on Destination Imagination, just go online to desinationimagination.org and have a look around.