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Let’s Cook: Destination Imagination

By Staff | Jun 3, 2016

What’s the best way to get to know your child? Spending time with them, of course! We just spent a week on the campus of the University of Tennessee with Lydia and other North Dakota participants as Lydia’s team, Yoda Soda, competed at Destination Imagination Global Finals 2016. We were first introduced to Destination Imagination when we lived in Rugby, where Karen Black was a stronghold for this program at Ely Elementary.

The mission of Destination Imagination is to develop opportunities that inspire the global community of learners to utilize diverse approaches in creatively applying 21st century skills. The DI program encourages teams of learners to have fun, take risks, focus, and frame challenges while incorporating STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics), along with service learning. Participants learn patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem solving process. Teams showcase their solutions at tournaments such at state contests. The first place finish at state allows them to present at Global Finals.

Lydia along and her teammates, Gwen, Kaden, Kiernan and Sky, who were all students at Longfellow Elementary, started practicing last fall. They selected the Fine Arts challenge “Get a Clue,” which involved presenting a mystery story, set on earth, in a team-chosen time period before 1990. The team must discover live on stage which of the suspect characters is responsible for the mystery, and they must include a techniCLUE that helps solve the mystery. They had to present the play using traverse staging, as well as to create and include two team choice elements which show off the team’s interests, skills, and area of strength and talents. They included a Pac Guy mystery set in the 1980s.

Global Finals involved a total of 17,000 in attendance including students, parents and team leaders. Students and support members came from the United Stated and 21 foreign countries. The University of Tennessee has been the location for Global Finals for several years, and it is a well-oiled machine. The opening and closing ceremonies were held in the Thompson-Boling Arena with a parade featuring each country and state just like the Olympics. This arena is home to UT basketball and their signature color orange is everywhere, along with pictures of star athletes and former women’s college basketball head coach Pat Summitt.

What caught my attention more than anything was the interaction between all of the students, and how much they enjoyed the company of one another. They truly wanted to be there and share what they knew. They appreciated the fact that we all have something to offer. I did not witness anyone being rude only folks being kind.

Did I mention that pin trading is huge? Each state/country designs a pin for DI and they come equipped to trade and deal. Massive numbers of students were on their knees with their pin towel spread before them or around tables with open pin bags. Students from age 6 to adults trading pins and visiting? Perhaps world leaders should first trade pins and then open their talks.

The World’s Fair was held in Knoxville in 1982. The Sunsphere, a huge golden globe, was constructed and served as a symbol for the Fair. It offers 360-degree views of the original World’s Fair Park. Today, the Sunsphere and Tennessee Amphitheater are the two structures that remain from the Fair. This is a focal point when finding your way around campus, and the park is beautiful, offering a reflection pool and fountain.

We took the time to journey to Dollywood for a fun day. We had the chance to see how Dolly Parton has given back to her neighborhood by creating this place of recreation. We walked on streets that have been re-created to reflect her hometown, including a 1950s diner. Our ride to Dollywood allowed us grand views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and scenic settings. There is nothing like a view from a bus where you a free to gaze about and savor the local flair.

This was our first time in Tennessee, and with that we learned several things such as the nickname for the University of Tennessee the Volunteers was earned during the War of 1812 because of the prominent role played by volunteer soldiers from Tennessee, especially during the Battle of New Orleans. With our Destination Imagination team in Minot, we have our volunteers and they are Paul and Sari. They came to Minot from Texas where DI is as big as the Lone Star State and where competition is fierce. Under their leadership, the DI team, through weekly practice and weekend work days, have learned not only to respect and appreciate each other’s ideas, but also to have received hands-on-experience in using drills, various saws, sewing skills, painting and so forth. Students are taught how to utilize these skills so that they can create their backdrops, props, costumes and skit with their own abilities. It is truly an awakening.

If you are a fan of the color orange like myself, then a trip to this campus is worth your while. Orange is everywhere! It is on light fixtures, benches, signs, couches, chairs, shirts, in the elevators, and yes even port-a-potties! This colors bring with it the personality of forever the optimist, and that you can expect something wonderful is about to happen. Orange folks drink in the moment and focus on what and who is in front of you. You see this on campus by the friendly staff, the creative artwork and signs that say “Big Orange, Big Ideas!”

Helen Keller once said “Many a person have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but though fidelity to a worthy purpose.” That is why Destination Imagination continues to grow and inspire the lives of many. As a parent, this week made me realize that all the running, the late nights, the moments of frustration brought me to a point of listening to children being inspired. Giving them time and support is so important and then standing back as you watch them root themselves in life skills that will give them wings to soar. That is something that people from all over this globe can cherish. In DI, team members are often given Instant Challenges which involve solving a problem quickly. My instant challenge came with making Dolly Parton’s Banana Pudding. The recipe comes from her cookbook entitled “Tennessee Mountain Home Cooking.”

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