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Destination Imagination returns live for 2022

May 5, 2022 News Story
Destination Imagination 2022 - École River Heights School Students

After being on hiatus due to the pandemic, the provincial Destination Imagination tournament returned with a recent live event at École River Heights School.

The April 28 tournament saw student teams competing in several different challenges designed to promote problem-solving, creativity, spontaneity and other important life skills.

The last provincial Destination Imagination tournament took place at River Heights in 2020, just before the first confirmed case of Covid in Manitoba. Almost 40 teams participated in that event. 

With Covid restrictions limiting extracurricular clubs for two straight school years, this year’s tournament took place with a smaller, but still enthusiastic bracket of teams. 

“It’s so exciting to feel the buzz in the air and see the students’ excitement…it’s a fun, light-hearted atmosphere. The students are always so excited to share their learning and their solutions to the challenges,” said Shauna Cornwell, a WSD Program Lead and Manitoba Destination Imagination Affiliate Director.   

Destination Imagination is an international program that offers a fun, hands-on system of learning that strengthens 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. 

Ms. Cornwell said DI programming was well-suited to developing the global competencies Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning is releasing as part of the new learning framework. The province’s action plan will build curricular links across grade levels to these global competencies.

“Destination Imagination is an extraordinary opportunity to build these global competencies in students. That whole notion of critical and creative thinking, collaboration, communication, connection to self, citizenship and service learning…we’re really excited that this program, which WSD has been involved with for many years, will continue to help students to develop these global competencies.”

The main focus of the DI Program is the Team Challenge component. Each year in August, DI issues a new challenge in each the STEAM areas. Teams of up to seven students form to solve a challenge and work together over a number of months to create the best solution they can. At DI tournaments, students carry out their solutions (which must be performed in under eight minutes) in front of a panel of judges. 

Teams at this year’s provincial tournament competed in three different challenge areas: Fine Arts (which leaned on students’ skills in acting, scriptwriting and prop design), Improvisational (in which teams receive topics and quickly produce skits) and a secret Instant Challenge.

Fine Arts Challenge

River Heights’ students Isla Blue Krause, Hamza Kinnarath and Salina Lupu were part of a school team that tackled the Fine Arts Challenge. Students prepared their own costumes and script for the challenge, but it had to meet precise appraisal criteria. 

“There needed to be a trickster character that went through a tricky situation…as well, we had to include an illusion and a costume transformation,” Salina said.

Set amongst a group of mythological characters, the group’s production featured a costume transformation that revealed the main character to be a human instead of a gnome.

“We developed the story together as a group. I was designated to be the script writer and then everyone came together to contribute and edit the story,” Hamza said.

The students are also part of an extracurricular drama/acting program at River Heights called Troupe 10336, which is run with teacher Kyle Collins. The 30 student troupe members work on acting projects to earn points towards their induction into the International Thespian Society.

“We’ve been working towards Destination Imagination, the THESPYS, which is the competition by the International Thespian Society and the Manitoba Drama Youth Festival,” Isla Blue said, adding that the students performed in community theatre as well. 

“These events aren’t just about the competition, it’s about bonding. You really get close with everyone and it’s all about the experience.”

Virtual Instant Challenge tournament

Along with the live tournament, Manitoba teams were also offered the opportunity to participate in a virtual instant challenge tournament, where teams were given challenges and recorded their work on video for appraisal. Appraisers gave descriptive feedback and positive encouragement and teams will receive second and third instant challenges to record in May. A virtual closing ceremony will be held for this DI secondary tournament in June.

DI organizers also announced a new student team award in honour of WSD teacher Sid Williamson, who passed away in 2020. Ms. Williamson was a DI team manager at King Edward Community School and later was a DI volunteer coordinator.

“Sid was a huge champion of DI, and anything students did to explore inquiry and creativity,” Ms. Cornwell said. “This year, Manitoba Destination Imagination is starting the Sid Williamson Memorial Service Learning Award. We have a new team from Acadia Junior High School who have been doing service learning, and they will be receiving that award this evening.”

Student volunteers

DI Alumni/River Heights students Sophia Chau and Lindsay Sutherland were among several former Destination Imagination competitors who returned to volunteer at the tournament. 

While there were no DI tournaments in 2021—their final year of competing—both students were part of an online community service learning project through DI. Their River Heights team met virtually and came up with a project to make and sell their own homemade paper. The proceeds of the project were donated to provide seeing eye dogs for the visually impaired.

“We had to film our project on Zoom, and as part of the challenge, we had to have an ad in the middle of it,” Sophia said. “So we did an ad for recycling, where we passed a ball of paper through Zoom.”

The students found that working in the virtual world had its own set of challenges.

“On a normal basis, you definitely need to have communication,” Lindsay said. “When you are online, you need a lot of patience to work around problems when you can’t have face-to-face contact anymore.”

Both students agreed it was interesting to see how other teams solved challenges and handled curveballs.

“It’s fun and cool to see how other people do the challenges, because we were always so focused on our own challenges when we were competing,” Lindsay said.

– With files from Manitoba Destination Imagination

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