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WSD students let their imaginations run wild

March 26, 2024
WSD - River Heights - Destination Imagination 1

Winnipeg School Division students brought their ideas to life at Destination Imagination Manitoba.

The annual provincial tournament took place at École River Heights School on March 20.

Twenty-five WSD teams participated in the competition, which saw over 140 students collaborating to solve STEAM-based challenges through creativity, communication, and critical thinking. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

According to its website, Destination Imagination is a global educational non-profit dedicated to “inspiring the next generation of innovators, leaders and creative problem solvers.”

“It’s a themed design competition, where groups of three to seven students, plus a team manager, access one of six challenges,” said Adam Charbonneau, STEAM support teacher and Destination Imagination Manitoba affiliate director.

“The challenges fit within the categories of scientific, technical, engineering, fine arts, improvisational, and service learning. Each of those challenges have certain criteria that are built into them. Teams work in advance to understand the challenge criteria, think about what they’re going to create, and then package that within an eight-minute presentation.”

The team challenges are also cross-curricular. A fine arts challenge will include a technical element, while a technical challenge will include a storytelling component.

“Even if their task is to build a rollercoaster or a catapult, the students are asked to package that within a story with characters,” Charbonneau said.

This year’s technical challenge, Pinball Heroes, not only tasked teams with designing and building a pinball system, but also with presenting a story about a hero on an extraordinary mission.

The Wild Space Cats from Meadows West School constructed a giant carboard pinball machine, complete with workable flippers, bumpers, and plunger. During their presentation, the students presented a short play about a crew of space explorers whose craft is hit by an asteroid.

“Why the space theme?” asked one of the appraisers, who provide scores and feedback at the tournament.

“The ball represented our spaceship traveling through space, but it’s pinball, so it’s not always accurate where its going to go,” said one of the Meadows West team members.

“That’s what happened to our spaceship. We did not mean to get hit by a meteor.”

Destination Imagination participants are also asked to think on their feet. Every team in the tournament participates in an instant challenge, which sees students solving problems using select materials in a short amount of time.

“In the runup to the tournament, the students are developing as a team, so that when they get an unexpected challenge, they can work together to solve the problem quickly,” Charbonneau said.

“They learn to trust each other, to rely on each other, and to lead or follow in an interchangeable way. It’s exciting to watch teams take on an instant challenge and hear them really talk it out. They don’t have time to second-guess themselves.”

During the Improvisational Challenge, The Five Young Men with Huge Goatees from Wolseley School were asked to create a two-act on-the-spot sketch based on the scenario, “You gave a rabbit your last carrot.”

The talented troupe had the audience in stitches. At one point the improviser who was acting as the narrator of the scene accidentally referred to the rabbit as a chicken. In true “Yes, and…” tradition, the student turned his flub into funny.

“It wasn’t intentional. I just saw him and I thought chicken. You use your mistake for comedy,” said the student to the appraisers.

While it is a tournament, the overall vibe of Destination Imagination is collaborative, not competitive.

“We’re really trying to have all the teams walk away with their heads raised high, feeling good about the journey they’ve gone on, opposed to it being all about the result at the end,” Charbonneau said.

“It’s an opportunity to be inspired and to share ideas. There is a wonderful sense of community that is created from it. It’s just about celebrating and building everyone up.”

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