YOUNGSTOWN - Local students used their creativity and teamwork to impress the judges this past weekend at the regional competition for Destination Imagination held at Youngstown State University.
Cindy Baer, event coordinator and a Howland teacher, said there were five rooms used throughout the day for different challenges and presentations by the students from the tri-county area.
Destination Imagination is an educational program in which student teams solve opened-ended challenges and present their solutions at tournaments. Teams are tested to think on their feet, work together and devise original solutions that satisfy the requirements of the challenge.
Baer said creativity, collaboration and teamwork are all part of DI.
"They always include a technical element to the challenge. DI tends to push STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). These are opened-ended challenges, so you have no idea what directions the teams will go," she said.
Baer said all first-place winners at the regional event advance to the state tournament April 25 in Reynoldsburg for a chance to advance to the global tournament May 21 to 24 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
All ages take part in the event, including primary grade students, who are known as Little Rising Stars. While they do perform, they are not competing as are the older grades. A team of younger children in kindergarten and first grade also performed with a circus theme at the event to get practice.
Baer said Howland schools had 10 teams at the event, with eighth competing teams and two performing only.
Koula Anastasiades, a coach along with her husband, Stavros, said their daughter's team competed well.
Warren and Badger schools also had teams competing.
Hayden DeMark, a seventh-grader at Lincoln K-8, said he enjoys the team getting to come up with ideas on their own.
"We get to make different props and a script for our story on the Holocaust," said DeMark, who was the team's narrator.
Jillian DiCasare, an eighth-grader, said all of the members of the team have been part of DI since elementary school.
Emily Hunter, an eighth-grader, said they had to make all the props which took time.
"We had to pick an extreme environment and wanted to try something different," Hunter said,
Lincoln K-8 School Coach Judy Babik said the students came up with their own ideas for an extensive environment. She said the team used World War II footage using green screen technology as they performed their skit.
Babik said both Lincoln and Willard schools brought teams to the competition.
"This is all student-driven. They have to learn how to work together," she said.
Badger Middle School seventh-grader Jimmy Plunkett said their team also did an extreme environment theme using the Sahara Desert.
"We had to create a story of survival in an extreme environment. Coming up with the idea was easy. Making the props took awhile," he said.
The team made palm trees, cacti and a camel costume for a desert scene.
Bailey Armstrong, a seventh-grader, said the storyline took awhile for the event. "I liked my part in the script a lot. I am the narrator. I get to yell very loud," he said.
Brandon Greathouse, a seventh-grader, is marking his first year in DI. "There was a lot of hours involved and a lot of practicing," he said.
Badger coach Kelly Mulligan said the students quickly came up with the desert for their theme.
"It was one of the first meetings we had. The students said we should do the Sahara Desert. They had been studying it in school," she said.