Howland schools will be among the many districts in the area that will be showcasing students' creativity for the upcoming Destination Imagination regional contest in March at Youngstown State University.
The Destination Imagination program encourages teams of learners to have fun, take risks, have patience and focus on a selected challenge while incorporating science, technology, engineering, mathematics - STEM - and the arts.
To help guide the teams, many area parents serve as coaches where students work together and break down a challenge showing where each student's strengths are.
Howland Community photos / Bob Coupland
Howland school students Mila Griffith, Maria Glaros and Lissy Blair take part in a Destination Imagination practice event. The team is among several from Howland schools preparing for the competition.
Howland residents Stavros and Koula Anastasiades are co-coaches for two Destination Imagination marking their second year as coaches. One team at the primary level is from Howland Glen for kindergarten to second grade and the second team from HC Mines School of grades third to fifth.
Stavros Anastasiades said the teams received information last fall on the challenges for each grade level and began preparing for the regional competition to be held March 15 at YSU.
If a team is successful at the regional level, it advances to the state level in April, and if successful there, advances to the globals in May.
Cindy Baer, a Howland teacher and the regional co-regional tournament coordinator for DI, said Howland has had teams advance to the global finals in recent years.
She said the students at the primary level do not compete but take part to gain experience at the regional event.
Baer said the primary grades see their older siblings involved in DI and also want to get involved and start at non-competitive level.
This year Howland schools has 12 teams involved with DI with 10 competing and two at the primary level not competing.
Stavros Anastasiades said teams have eight months to prepare a solution of a designated time period to their challenge which the will present to the judges.The challenges include themes involving technical, scientific, structural, fine arts, improvisational and service learning.
He said all the intermediate level team members have experience with DI having competed before.
Mila Griffith, a team member, said "It is fun because you get to create your own story and you can be creative and do what you basically what you want as long as you are following the guidelines."
Griffith said the most challenging part is coming up with a story and a script in a short period of time.
Baer said DI teams have been from Howland, Niles and Youngstown. Baer said teams come from Trumbull, Mahoning and Ashtabula counties. She said Novelis Neighbors is a new outreach which is a corporate sponsor for the Howland teams helping to cover memberships since it includes STEM.
"Howland has really kept the program going. We have had teams through high school age," she said.
Koula Anastasiades said the primary level group is doing a challenge with the circus three acts using different shapes.
Baer said the younger children do get some feedback on what they did so the experience what it will be like when they continue in DI.
Baer said DI Region 1 would like to have more schools involved noting how much STEM is incorporated into the program.
"The children had a lot of fun last year and decided to be part this year. We were really amazed at the ideas the children came up with. They really use their imagination," Koula Anastasiades said.
She said the challenges can be performance based. She said the children work together and have shown how teamwork works. The team members come up with the ideas on their own and build something, perform a skit, or do a combination of both.
"They have become good friends and work well together as a team," Anastasiades said noting the intermediate students have named themselves "The Seven Bobs."
For information visit idodi.org or www.region1di.org