Submitted by Destination Imagination of Bedford
For some, March is a sleepy month. The holidays are over and the snowstorms of winter have (theoretically) abated, yet the hustle and bustle of spring has yet to really arrive. Yet for five Bedford teams of young problem-solvers, March represents the culmination of a creative journey as the Destination Imagination regional and state tournaments arrive, offering an opportunity for them to showcase their inventiveness, collaboration, and hard work.
About Destination Imagination
Destination Imagination is an extra-curricular non-profit program for kids in elementary school through college, with an emphasis on exploring STEAM, teamwork, creativity and problem-solving. Bedford’s DI program is entirely volunteer run and is supported by the Bedford Schools and private donations. DI fosters students’ curiosity through open-ended academic challenges in the fields of science, engineering, technology, fine arts, and service learning. In working to solve DI Challenges, teams learn 21st-century skills (creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, citizenship, and courage) by stepping outside of their comfort zones to pursue ideas and build on their unique strengths and interests.
Each year the challenges change but their basic premise remains the same: kids research, construct, and present entirely original work in a team-selected domain (such as technology, structural engineering, science, or fine arts). Students are matched up into teams of up to 7 students in or close to their grade level in the fall, and work together all winter on solving the problems of their selected challenge, including writing scripts, building scenery, and designing props, costumes and other elements entirely without input or assistance from people outside of their team on a very small budget. In real world terms, parents can’t measure, cut or nail together wood for the team, sew costumes, or rebuild or improve something that falls apart. Everything about the project from concept to design to execution is entirely student-driven. Over the course of the season, kids learn about time management, resource management, understanding the design process and how to teach themselves things they never knew they could learn how to do.
At the tournament in March, trained appraisers ranging from educators to artists to engineers score each aspect of the team’s solution on a variety of criteria, including originality, workmanship, presentation, and teamwork. In addition to the prepared solution, each team is also evaluated on an “Instant Challenge” which tests their creativity, communication, and collaboration skills by giving them an entirely new problem or task. Unlike the central team challenge where teams have months to create their presentation, Instant Challenges are solved in a matter of a few minutes, using communication and problem-solving strategies the team has developed over the course of the season.
This year, five teams represented Bedford at the Regional Tournament at Chelmsford High School on March 26th.
The youngest team, the “Rainbow Dragons” — students in second grade — performed at the noncompetitive “Rising Stars” level and researched types and properties of simple machines to build a new invention. Team members Noah Anderson-Laporte, Abby Bourret, Gabe Favalora, Taylor Hallett, Nayan Karthikeyan, and Marcy Venuti designed and built two different inventions and created a play that tells a story about how the new inventions helped “Save the Day.”
The Spy Kids 5 – students in third grade – selected the scientific challenge, Top Secret, and spent months researching cryptography and steganography to create two original secret codes, one of which was decoded live on stage during their presentation.
Team members Maggie Chessman, Paul Stewart, Sharanya Vaidianathan, Ebrahim Saeed, and Emory Carroll created an original story set in the Revolutionary War in which characters used codebreaking skills to apprehend a spy.
The Fabulous Five — students in fourth grade- presented their work on the Fine Arts Challenge, Vanished!, in which teams researched the meanings, roles, and uses of colors and created a story about how the disappearance of a color changes a world.
Teams were required to use technical theater methods such as image projection, lighting, and animation to make something appear to vanish during their presentation. Team members Stella Day, Annabella H., Swetha Kaundinya, Sarah Nelson, and Elena Rodriguez created an original story and made an object appear to vanish by employing a technique called optical cloaking, using mirrors placed at right angles.
The Skittleworms – students in fifth grade – (Ada Cooprider, Toby Favalora, Rachael Hsu, Evan Kelly, Hayden McAllister, and Jane Stewart) also solved the Vanished! challenge.
The team designed a solution featuring how color is perceived under the sea by researching color science and aquatic creatures, creating hand-drawn and computer animations, and composing an original song.
To learn more about the Skittleworms’ championship-winning solution and to support their trip to Global Finals in Tennessee, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/send-the-skittleworms-to-globals
Seventh grade team the Narwal Ninjas (Annie Bernstein, Maddie McAllister, Maddie O’Neil, and Mary Stewart) also solved the Top Secret challenge, creating a cryptography and steganography text with an embedded code requiring color lens decoder, and designing and building several unique set pieces including a desk which spins around to reveal a hidden bed, and an LED-adorned locket that played a custom written and computer coded song
The students’ hard work and creativity were rewarded with a very strong performance at the Chelmsford tournament. Two Bedford teams, The Skittleworms and the Spy Kids 5, placed first in their divisions and advanced to the state finals held at WPI. The Fabulous Five placed second in their challenge and level, giving Bedford a 1-2 finish in that division, and the rookie team of the Narwhal Ninjas placed fourth in a crowded field of fifteen teams for their challenge and level.
At the state tournament, the Bedford Skittleworms again carried their division with a first place finish, earning the right to represent Massachusetts at DI Global Finals to be held in Knoxville, Tennessee in May.
Bedford MADI is pleased to congratulate all of this year’s participants for their exceptional imagination, persistence, and teamwork!
Registration for Destination Imagination begins each September and culminates with competitive performances in March (Regional and States) and May (Global Finals). Teams of up to seven students meet with their coaches once a week to select and execute from the current year’s challenge options, developed by the Destination Imagination global organization. To find out more about Destination Imagination, go to www.destinationimagination.org or email [email protected].