A team of students from Bel Air is on top of the world, literally, following a first place win at the 2011 Destination Imagination Global Finals held at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. The international competition held in late May drew nearly 1,200 teams from 12 countries worldwide and from most U.S. states. The Bel Air team win is a first for Harford County Public Schools, according to school officials.
Designed to teach students teamwork and creative problem solving skills, Destination Imagination (DI) is an extra-curricular program with an educational focus. DI teams choose one of several different DI Challenges to solve, each with a specific emphasis such as engineering, technical design, literature, fine arts, scientific exploration, improvisation or community service. DI competitions in the U.S. are first held at the regional and state level, with state winners going on to compete at Global Finals.
Besting 60 other teams, including several from China and South Korea, the Bel Air team took the top high school prize in the DI Challenge “Verses! Foiled Again!” The Challenge required teams to build a weight-bearing structure and present an original skit including a team-created verse and a character that was “foiled”. Teams were also required to solve a never before seen “Instant Challenge” at the competition. As in all DI Challenges, the team devised their solutions without adult intervention.
The winning Bel Air team included a mix of Harford County Public School students: Bel Air High School freshman Jordan Huna; Patterson Mill High School seniors Carolyn Conn and Grace Mumby (who, in the interest of full disclosure, is my daughter); Patterson Mill junior Kelly Manning, and Cassidy Schirmer of Bel Air Middle School.
Team member Jordan Huna created the team’s weight-bearing structure which, according to the rules of the DI Challenge, was to be made only of thin wood, glue and aluminum foil, and could not weigh more than 15 grams – about as much as an empty soda can. Huna’s structure held 870 pounds at the global competition.
“Globals requires excellence,” Huna said, speaking of his experience, “if you think your skit, structure or props are good enough, make it better. Teamwork is key.”
Looking back on her nine years in DI, team member Carolyn Conn said that she most liked the sense of community within the program. Grace Mumby said, “I learned to think in a way that is not always emphasized in school but is essential for life.”
Mrs. Vicki Manning who, along with Sharon Conn, managed the Bel Air team said that she believed the team’s success came about because each member took responsibility for a component of the overall effort. Manning added, “Trust that each person was making a contribution and respect for each person’s vision were key factors. It truly was the case that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.”