Londonderry Destination Imagination (DI) teams had strong showings at the regional competition last weekend in Kingston.
Of the 10 Londonderry school teams that competed at regionals, two have advanced to the New Hampshire State Finals on April 2 in Nashua – Londonderry High School’s Secondary Level Team, which finished in first place, and Matthew Thornton Elementary School’s elementary team, which took first place in the Service Learning Challenge.
“They were very excited,” Londonderry High School’s team manager Bill O’Connor said.
The high school team is comprised of Jimmy Fitzgibbons, Jillian Fitzgibbons, Ian Goodspeed, Hannah Brown and Gillian Lynch.
D.I. is a competition that challenges students in a variety of tasks that test a range of skills. Scoring is based on each team’s performance of an instant challenge, which is assigned on the spot during competition, as well as their presentation of a challenge prepared beforehand.
High scores are awarded to teams that find the most creative solutions to a problem.
Top scoring teams at the State Finals will advance to compete against the top teams from 48 states and 15 countries at the Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, Tenn., in May.
The high school team chose to complete the technical challenge, which tasked them with building a vehicle with two different propulsion systems and two different methods of movement.
Jimmy Fitzgibbons, a freshman who has been competing with the team for many years, said they earned bonus points for moving their vehicle on skis as part of one propulsion system, rather than wheels.
Fitzgibbons, whose twin sister, Jillian, is also a member of the team, said the transition to high school was challenging.
“Everything steps up a level,” he said. “We were at the top last year and got shifted to the bottom. There are bigger and better teams now.”
“What we have as a team we brought up with us and we gave them all we got. We worked well together and tried our best,” Jillian Fitzgibbons said. “They know more about D.I., but we’ve had time to bond as a team.”
“They struggled getting here this year. They only had five kids on the team this year. Getting to high school is a time in D.I. where we lose a lot of teams because they have so many other things going on. Only three of the team’s original seven members came back. We had to recruit the others,” O’Connor said. “I think it really came together in the last few weeks. It’s a very confident team. It was kind of a lightning bolt of inspiration that struck in the last few weeks.”
“We developed the system little by little. We started off with something very odd, it was more of a crawling machine. Then we switched to sliding with the skis we attached to the vehicle and drill powered wheels,” Jimmy Fitzgibbons said.
“We can definitely make it better and add more details,” Jillian Fitzgibbons said, noting what she enjoys most about D.I. is that it has improved her ability to collaborate with a team and has challenged her critical thinking skills.
The names of the Matthew Thornton team members were not available as of press time.