Students get creative at the Western Maryland Regional DestiNation Imagination Tournament
Hayden Thompson, 11, from Northern Middle School places weights totaling 170 pounds on team Rainbow Zebras' structure Saturday during the Western Maryland Regional DestiNation Imagination Tournament at South Hagerstown High School. (Colleen McGrath / Colleen McGrath / March 2, 2013)
But it might have been taken literally and breezed through as child’s play for the industrious students gathered Saturday at South Hagerstown High School for the Western Maryland Regional DestiNation Imagination Tournament.
Students at Northern Middle School, for example, passionately took on the “Twist-O-Rama” challenge of building a structure that could bear weight and withstand off-center torque- and twist-inducing impacts.
They needed to use at least three materials from a mandated list, and — oh — while they were at it, create a story including an unexpected twist, and make and use a prop using only the exact materials used in the structure.
Jamie Siebert, 13, of Hagerstown, explained how her team, the Northern Middle Rainbow Zebras, created its roughly 7-inch, 175-gram structure that during competition proved to hold 170 pounds. The group started with cardboard, one of less than 20 approved materials, in part, she said, because it was “tough” and it “wouldn’t roll.”
“At the place where we practiced, we stacked like 37 pounds on it, and it held,” she said. “We just thought covering it in pink duct tape would, number one, make it stronger and it would kind of just make it a little more good-looking. And then, like, the straws kind of make it stronger as well.”
Judges for DestiNation Imagination, known as DI, provided a crusher structure, barbell weights and a ramming instrument for measurement.
Team member Taylor Norris, 13, of Hagerstown, said the group found inspiration for its story concept from the educational video series "BrainPOP", which features a young man named Tim and a robot named Moby as main characters.
“We decided to change a robot into a human as our unexpected story twist,” Taylor said.
Williamsport Wacky Wildcats competed in “In Disguise” at the elementary level. Their challenge included creating a story that used a disguise, constructing at least two masks to enhance the story, and using only nonverbal techniques to present the story.
The team came up with a tale about an old woman who calls the police to report a wild party. The police officer arrives in disguise before ripping off his moustachio and hauling the rowdy fools off to jail. Kendall Eversoll, 11, of Williamsport, played the old lady.
“When I called the police, my eyes were like I was really mad. I had to use my facial expressions to tell the story, and like, storm off covering my ears and stomping,” she said. “And you really have to be concise on what you are doing and not have a big huge story.”
Dan Henderson, Western Regional tournament director, said DI is a worldwide program that fosters teamwork, creativity and innovation.
“It helps to develop 21st-century skills so our youth ... are ready to take over when they become adults,” Henderson said.
Henderson estimated that about 600 people attended as the 52 teams from Washington, Frederick and Carroll counties competed in the event at elementary, middle and high school levels. Challenges are created primarily by educators and include technical, scientific, fine arts, improvisational, structural and service learning areas of focus.
Rainbow Zebras’ team manager Amanda Robinson, a technical education teacher, said she learned through her first year working with DI that “flexibility is key.”
“This is everything. It’s the math, it’s the science. You have to have just a good work ethic because there is, like, so little time,” she said. “You have to be flexible. You have to be ready.”
Teams manage preparation in various ways, Henderson said. Many meet once a week for several hours to practice from the beginning of the school year until the competition, adding Saturdays or extra time as the competition nears.
E. Russell Hicks Rojos Lightning also competed in the “Twist-O-Rama” challenge, creating a structure that bore 595 pounds. As she awaited the afternoon awards ceremony, team member Grace Jones, 13, of Funkstown, said there was a lot of good competition, but she felt good about her team’s performance.
“I think we did pretty good up there. Our skit went completely to plan. We did everything we possibly could have done and more. (It) put a smile on our face,” she said.
Many teams that competed will advance to the state tournament April 13 at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. Winners there will represent the state in May at the DestiNation Imagination Global Finals at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.