The Destination Imagination (DI) program is a “fun, hands-on system of learning that fosters students’ creativity, courage and curiosity through open-ended academic challenges in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), fine arts and service learning.” (destinationimagination.org)
Offered as an extracurricular activity in our RPCS Middle School, seventh graders Stella, Madeline, Kelly, Suzannah, and Aylin have embraced the challenges of DI, winning first place at both the regional and state levels.
According to their team manager – Middle School Math teacher Karen De Mey – the students’ extraordinary teamwork has brought them success. “Although most of these students were already friends at the beginning of the school year,” says Ms. De Mey, “their bonds have grown as they have learned to rely on each other. Every challenge in DI has a teamwork component, and this is our team’s greatest strength. They have achieved a lovely balance in which everyone participates and contributes to each challenge, without anyone dominating the team.”
When asked about their favorite moment from the state tournament, the students agreed it was the anticipation of awards announcements and the celebration as they heard “Roland Park Country School” called as 1st place winner. “We had our heads down, waiting to hear who won 1st place,” the team described. “We were holding hands and as soon we heard ‘Roland…’ we started cheering because we knew it was us – we did it!”
The Destination Imagination program has been an exciting addition to the RPCS Middle School, and Ms. De Mey looks forward to seeing it grow in the future: “I hope this is the beginning of a great tradition at RPCS. DI involves so many facets of challenge, including improvisation, fine arts, science, engineering, technology, and service learning. It offers the chance to develop skills in critical thinking, creativity, technical knowledge, and teamwork. I’d like to see several DI teams at RPCS, throughout the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools.”
For now, we will focus on the exciting opportunity coming up for our current team as they prepare for their journey to Knoxville for the Global Finals – “The World’s Largest Celebration of Creativity” (globalfinals.org). The four-day event in May welcomes over 8,000 students from 15 countries. In addition to the competition, our team says they are looking forward to the road trip to Tennessee, the fun expos and games, and pin trading – an activity encouraged by DI as a way to meet new friends and show good sportsmanship.
The journey of our DI team has proven to be about much more than the medals and 1st place finishes. As Ms. De Mey points out, “our team members have so many talents, as well a great sense of fun and purpose. They have learned about themselves and each other as they tackled various challenges that required multiple skills. I am so impressed by what the students bring to the challenges and how they bring out the best in each other.”