CHESTER – Five teams of students from Chester Academy participated in their regional competition of Destination Imagination (DI) at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston on Saturday, March 15, and one will be going on to states.
And though the regionals are the goal of each team starting in the program in November, the road that leads to that event is arguably more important. DI is a truly worldwide program that presents teams of students with “challenges” meant to test their creativity, teamwork, innovation and a variety of specific skills. Each year the challenges fall under the categories of technical, scientific, structural, fine arts, improvisational and service learning, and a team selects one to pursue.
Teams in Chester began meeting last fall, getting together after school for a couple hours to begin sorting out their challenge and to hone their instant challenge skills, a portion of DI that gives teams just a few minutes to solve a problem previously unknown to them. As the season progresses, those meetings become more frequent and longer. Often whole weekends are spent putting the final touches on props and scripts and costumes in the weeks before the competition.
The teams from Chester had members who ranged in age from kindergarten until fifth grade.
Kindergarten through second grade students take part in DI’s Rising Stars program, which encourages the same disciplines but without the competitive nature. Chester’s Rising Stars team was the Chester Cougars, and they tackled a challenge to create a circus and a performance, learning about the role of the ringmaster, balancing things, geometric shapes and teamwork.
A team of third graders known as the DI Artists competed in “Laugh Art Loud,” a challenge that asked them to research a work of art made by an artist in a nation other than their own and to theatrically present a comic strip based on it.
The rest of Chester’s teams took on “Going to Extremes,” a science-based challenge that asked them to learn about an extreme environment, create a story around characters who adapt to live in that environment and create gear that would help them live there.
Taking on “Going to Extremes” was the fifth grade team the Curious Monkeys, a mixed team of fourth and fifth graders called the DI Warrior Kitties, and a team of fifth graders called The 7 Amigos.
Terry Kennett was the DI coordinator this year, along with coaching the DI Warrior Kitties. She said it was amazing to watch the kids solve their challenges and learn in the process.
“This program is all about the kids doing it,” said Kennett, explaining that everything from reading the rules on the challenge to coming up with solutions, was in their hands. “For that reason alone it’s worthwhile.” And she said, it’s just amazing to see what the teams come up with, floating solutions few adults would dream of.
The 7 Amigos, will be heading to the state DI competition after placing second in their challenge and division. The state finals take place in Nashua on March 29.
Though the other teams’ DI experience is done for another year, they’re pleased that their classmates are moving on and according to Kennett, all enjoyed and got a lot out of Saturday’s competition.