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Hiram – This past weekend, 60 student-led teams from 12 area schools converged at the Hiram College campus for the District 15 Destination Imagination (DI) Competition. DI is an educational program where student teams solve open-ended challenges, then present their solutions at regional, state, and global tournaments. Competitors range in age from Early Learners (ages 4 through 7) to High School students, although only Elementary, Middle and High School students participate in State and Global events. The challenges include technical, scientific, fine arts, improvisational, structural and community service. Teams learn important life skills like time management, collaboration, conflict resolution and creative and critical thinking.

The Destination Imagination program encourages teams to have fun, focus and take risks, while incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the arts and service learning. Throughout the process, students learn patience, flexibility, and persistence, as they work with their teammates to solve a challenge. The path to this competition actually began last fall, when teams of two to seven students each chose one of six challenges to solve. They spent months creating, developing and practicing their solutions. The top-scoring teams from last weekend’s event will advance to the state tournament, to be held in Mt. Vernon next month.

The technical category, entitled Creature Feature, asks teams to build a creature that uses technical methods to perform team-chosen actions. The team must present their creature’s story, using two team-choice elements that show off the team’s interests, skills, areas of strength, and talents. The winning team of the Creature Feature – Elementary Level was YOLO from Woodridge Elementary, who shared what happens when two spies watch a scientist go down a manhole. The Middle School-level winning team was SSOS from Woodridge Middle School.

In the Scientific Category, called Making Waves, teams must design and construct a sound machine that produces two different sounds. They must incorporate two visible displays of sound waves into their presentation.  The winning team of the Making Waves – Elementary Level was DI Pie from Falcon Academy of Creative Arts, and the winning teams at the Middle and Secondary Levels were Umm…I forgot their name from Barberton Middle School and douBleStuff from Aurora High School, respectively.

In the Fine Arts challenge, entitled Feary Tales, teams must present a team-created fairy tale about a character that faces and deals with a phobia. The winning teams of the Elementary Level were Sparkle Sisters from Linsey, and Robotic Unicorns from Woodridge Elementary. The Middle School winning team was Fun Sized, who gave no school affiliation, and the Secondary Level winning team was the Noodles from Barberton High School.

In the Improvisational Challenge, or Improv Games, teams must create three independent improvisational sketches, integrating randomly selected situations and settings. The winning team of the Elementary Level was the Crestwood Improv Scholars from Crestwood Intermediate School, who showed a glimpse of life at the Holly Jolly Christmas Workshop. The Middle Level winning team was Dusty Red Piano from Kenston Middle School. There were two winners of the Secondary Level in this category: M pi R Strikes Back from Woodridge HS and I Have No Idea from Aurora HS.

In the Structural Category, called Lose to Win, teams design and build the lightest structure possible that continues to support the weight of the pressure board while parts of the structure are removed. In addition, during their presentation, they must tell a story about how something is transformed and revealed to be something completely different. The winning team at the Elementary Level was 100% Awesomeness of Dynamite from Woodridge Elementary.

In the final category, Service/Learning, or Brand Aid, teams are encouraged to use the creative process to identify, design and carry out a project that addresses at least one real community need. They can use graphic arts and sounds to create an effective brand, and create a live presentation that highlights the project and goals.  The winning Elementary Level team was GOGO 6 from Barberton Middle School. The winning Secondary teams were Purple Pride and the Pixelated Purple Penguins, both from Barberton High School. For more information on Destination Imagination, visit idodi.org.

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Stacy Turner is a wife, mother, and contributing reporter who has lived in the Mantua/Hiram area for over a dozen years. After enjoying a career in marketing, where she spent her time writing on behalf of other people, she gets a kick out of writing under her own name. Mostly, she enjoys the opportunity to learn more about her community through the stories she covers.