“Kids wind up being put inside a box,” said Londonderry Destination Imagination coordinator Christina Baez. “They wind up being tested on a scale where they may not (excel)…this type of program allows for them to utilize other parts of their minds and strengths.”
Since 1999, Destination Imagination has been enriching the minds of students from kindergarten through university through creative and engaging collaborative challenges, all focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM).
This past weekend, over 80 New Hampshire teams met at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton to show off their skills in the state’s Destination Imagination’s Regional Competition. Of 12 competing teams, five Londonderry teams will be advancing to the State Competition next month, the highest number of teams from the town to advance in two years.
There were a total of 15 teams participating from Londonderry, however, three teams were comprised of “Rising Stars,” students in Kindergarten through grade 2. Rising Stars are not scored, and their participation is more for experience and preparation for competition later on, with competing teams separated into grades 3-5, middle school, and high school.
The students were all given technical, scientific, structural, artistic, improvisational, or service-learning based challenges, depending on their skill and interest. Challenges were open-ended and complex, and were solved by students with no intervention by adults or friends outside of the teams.
For Londonderry, the team focusing on sciences was tasked with creating an “unlikely location,” with an amusement park utilizing three scientific theories. For the technical challenge, team members had to navigate a complicated maze and build a device to retrieve something from within the maze. One team was tasked with building a device strong enough to sustain a significant amount of weight being dropped on it. The Arts team had done a good amount of research on various explorers and locations in preparation for an improvisation routine they had to carry out. For Inside Impact, or community service, team members chose to put out an anti-cyberbullying campaign for the Londonderry Schools.
Destination Imagination competitions allow students to not only hone their STEAM skills through exciting challenges, but their communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills, as well.
“Overall, I think it gives them more diversity in solving problems and approaching them from different mindsets.” Said Baez. “(It’s) taking into account that everyone’s brain works differently, as there are people who are logical…methodical, and you see that mixed in with team members who can create costumes or performances…kids are able to branch out and use their individual strengths, but also find a level playing field and come together as a team.”
Londonderry’s Destination Imagination competitions are funded in part by the school district, but at a certain point, said Baez, teams do run into out-of-pocket expenses.
“This program is mostly volunteers,” Baez explained. “The future of this program is in volunteers…and as with any program, success lies on financial backing. And as it continues to grow…at some point we will tap out of resources.”
Baez said that the Londonderry Destination Imagination teams do hold fundraisers to help alleviate some of the out-of-pocket expenses, a few of which include an upcoming car wash and calendar sale, with all proceeds to fund the teams’ advancement to the state and then global competitions.
The five Londonderry Teams will be competing against other New Hampshire teams for the chance to advance to the Global Finals, where they will have the opportunity to test their skills against teams from all 50 states as well as 15 other countries.
For more information on NH Destination Imagination, visit www.nh-di.org. For more information on upcoming fundraisers or volunteer opportunities, visit www.londonderrydi.org, or visit the Facebook page, Londonderry DI. Christina Baez can be reached with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.