Students write about competing at Destination Imagination competition

Published 9:05 am Saturday, June 2, 2012

By Natalie Weiland and Lydia Boorsma, Southwest Middle School students

On March 17, nine teams, about 64 students, from the Albert Lea Area Schools, boarded a bus to Rochester for the Destination Imagination regional tournament to compete for the chance to move on to the state tournament. They competed in instant and team challenges to get total points.

Destination Imagination is an educational program in which student teams solve open ended challenges and present their solutions at tournaments. It is the largest student-led creative problem solving based program of its kind. Around the world 100,000 youth participate in it annually.

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At the tournaments, students are scored by the team challenge, the instant challenge and the team choice elements. The team challenge is a group of two to seven students working together over two to three months to solve the problem they have chosen and present the solution at tournament.

The instant challenge is a problem or question that is not known before the tournament and has specific materials, time and contents. Each year the program has different challenges to choose from including: improvisational, structural, service-learning, technical, scientific and fine arts. Each challenge has specific requirements and rules that the teams have to follow.

“It stretched my mind,” said Natalie Weiland, a seventh-grader from Southwest Middle School. “It gave us a chance to express ourselves creatively.”

The tournament was a great experience,” said Lydia Boorsma a sixth-grader from Southwest. “I think anyone who gets a chance to get involved should go for it!”

Sonya Zeiske, the gifted and talented coordinator for the school district, elected to participate this year because it’s a “wonderful way to promote creativity and problem-solving.”

The school helped pay for the tournament as well as community sponsors including Freeborn-Mower Co-op and Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea.