HOWLAND - Each year, students from various school districts use their creativity to come up with skits and displays to use as part of the Destination Imagination competition.
Many teams have already been meeting in preparation for local, state and national competitions.
Lorie Rhine and Tina Cook, who are both coaches for the Howland Middle School team of seventh- and eighth-graders, said students from kindergarten through high school can take part in DI.
The local regional competition will take place on March 16 with teams from Trumbull, Mahoning and Ashtabula counties.
Rhine said the competition involves problem solving, critical thinking, and teamwork to accomplish both a central challenge and instant challenge.
Taylor Cook, a team participant, said the instant challenge requires teams to either build something or act something out.
"You have five minutes to plan what you want to do or build your object and then there is two minutes to make a presentation," she said.
Nathan Nadler, a participant, said the challenge is to follow the directions but to put your own spin on the challenge. He said the judges look over what creativity was involved to solve the challenge.
Rhine said for the instant challenge the team does not know what the challenge will be, while for the central challenge the teams do know what to expect and can prepare several months in advance.
She said there are three ways to solve any challenge: performance-based with five minutes to develop a skit within certain parameters, building something, or a combination of performance and building.
Cindy Baer, tournament director for the local region, said the students learn to use what is available to them to complete the challenge.
"The students really have to think on their feet and come up with a solution using the materials,'' she said.
She said preparation for competitions begins in the fall. She said the first-place winners from the regional event in March go to the state tournament at Mount Vernon College in April. The first- and second-place winners there advance to global finals at the University of Tennessee in May.
Baer said while there are a lot of participants in upper elementary levels and middle schools for DI, there are fewer participants at the high school and college levels.
"It has become more difficult to find high school teams for our region,'' she said.