Friday, April 4, 2008

Destination ImagiNation

This morning we helped Cody pack and get ready to go to an academic competition that his gifted class competes in--Destination ImagiNation.
I will try to describe it from what I know, and sadly I don't know alot about it. But here goes: this is a competition that challenges students, gifted or otherwise, in critical thinking and problem solving. The students are grouped by age and by the particular challenge of their choosing. There are 5 different challenges. The challenge is a goal of sorts and the group has a set of rules that dictate the parameters of meeting this challenge. Things like: the amount of money that they can spend and only the kids in the group can manufacture the elements of the challenge. There is also a series of paperwork that is to be completed by the team.

In both of the years that Cody's class has competed they have written a skit to showcase the challenge that they are completing. I believe there is a time limit on that as well. Then there is generally some sort of constructed element that is part of the skit.

Some examples:

Last year, the challenge was called Directed Flight. The kids built a paper airplane launcher. Then they experimented with several different types of planes to see which ones were best for different lengths of flight. They had to set up the launcher at the competition on a grid and drew out cards to see where they had to land the plane. The more flights that they carried out in the time frame, that were successful, the more points that they received. As part of the storyline they had a skit about an actress who was 'flying' to all these 'destinations' which tied the skit to the construction challenge. Along the way they could have 'side trips' where the team members could showcase other talents that they had. I believe last year one girl tap danced and another played the violin.

This year I am not sure of the name of the Challenge, but it involves using an optical illusion. Their skit is a take on SnowWhite and the Seven Dwarfs. Their illusion uses that picture that is known around where if you look at it one way it looks like a beautiful princess and the other way a haggard old woman. The structural element that they built is a door frame that can flip. The illusion/picture in on the door. It all fits into their story, but they haven't performed in front of the parents yet, so I am not sure exactly how.

This is their main challenge that they spend several weeks preparing for. But they have a second challenge that they can practice for, but is completed at the tournament. It's called an Instant Chellenge. In this challenge the group gets an assortment of items and/or written challenge that they have an alloted time to prepare then perform. It reminded me most of 'impromtu speech' which was something that I competed in when I was in HS. They get scored on this challenge as well and obviously the team with the highest score overall wins.

This weekend the Centralia kids are competing in the regional competition in Joplin MO. They competed a month ago at a local competition in Jefferson City, MO. If they would win or take second place, they would be eligible to compete in the Destination ImagiNation Global Finals in May. This competition is held on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville TN. This will showcase kids from all over the US and the some from around the world. Kind of a brainiac meets state fair I think were Cody's words to describe the environment at Global DI.

The kids compete in their challenges and TRADE PINS, that's a big thing at these competitions as well. I am sure that they don't realize, but they are interacting with their peers when trading and gaining lots of great experiences to boot. Almost as big as the competitions themselves I think, at least we heard more about the pin trading than the competition. :)

We are so proud of these kids. To compete on a state then national level in an academic competition against schools that are much bigger and have the ability to recruit students for their teams, I think these kids are exceptional!

In a small town, focus tends to be on athletics. If you're not in a sport, you're kind of a nobody. Cody does participate in Football and Wrestling and has an interest in trying out track/cross country and golf yet in his school career. But I remind him all the time that when you compare the amount of people who use athletics as part of their career and those who use their knowledge, I am most proud to see him 'flexing' that muscle between his ears!!! That muscle will help him/us pay for college.

Now all of my family/friends who are reading this know that I am huge HUGE HUGE!!!! sports fan, so I didn't make the above statements lightly. I believe in the importance of teams and sports, but I love to see kids use all of their talents, whether the talent is physical or academic. I know that I learned alot of things playing basketball and softball growing up. Working together and discipline among the top things. I enjoyed the social side of it, the closeness within the group/team and meeting fellow competitors, etc. But I also was in Quiz Bowl, and I know I learned alot more in that and it was very confidence building as well. I probably still use some of that more today than the basketball skills................... Ha! Especially since my boys wrestle instead of playing basketball.

If I haven't totally bored you to death today with this blog, you ought to go to the DI website, which is:

Will keep everyone up to date as soon as I know how they did and if they're going to Knoxville again.

Cody's proud mom~


1 comment:

Hasekamp 3 said...

What a great expereince. My sister was in the gifted program, and really enjoyed it.