A group of seven fifth-graders from Kingsbury Country Day school will pack their bags and head to the global Destination Imagination (DI) competition next month. DI brings schools from all over the world together to compete in STEM-related, science, technology, engineering and math, challenges.
Kingsbury has had a DI team for just two years, and the kids are elated to compete in Kansas City, Missouri in late May. To prepare for this moment, they’ve been meeting at least once a week with their team manager Holly Warnke since October.
“They’ve been working so hard and they’ve accomplished so much since going to regionals,” Kingsbury DI Coordinator and teacher Cassandra Koontz said.
Kingsbury sent three teams to the state competition two weeks ago, but this team is the first and only to go to globals. Out of the seven challenges teams can compete in at DI competitions, this group specializes in fine arts. The challenge is called Game On.
“What they had to do was choose any kind of game that had already been invented and they kind of had to revamp it,” Koontz said. “They had to look up all of the history of it, come up with a skit, change the game a little bit, put a spin on it.”
At states, Kingsbury’s twist during Game On is what made it stand out.
“The cool thing about their container was they built it life-size,” Koontz said. “It could still fit through a door, but it was small enough to fit four of the team members in there. So, four of the team members were actually part of the game, they were game pieces. So, when they opened the box in front of the group of people, they had no idea that there were actually kids in the box.”
Warnke said the kids were more than excited when they found out they had made it to the global level. “They lost it,” she said. “They were so excited. There were hugs, a couple of them cried happy cries.”
The school has embraced the program since starting it two years ago. Since Kingsbury is an environmentally-focused school, administration wanted to offer something for the ever-growing STEM fields.
“We just kind of wanted to branch out and pull the STEM program into the school,” Koontz said. “We don’t really have a lot of that, we’re a big outdoors school and we do a lot with that. However, we wanted to bring STEM in.”
Aside from the STEM-based learning, Warnke said the program has given the students a lot of people skills.
“It’s a big celebration of creativity and teamwork,” she said of DI.
Teamwork is a big part of a team’s score at DI competition, and Warnke said it has been rewarding to see the kids improve in that area throughout the year.
“They definitely struggled with teamwork, that was a big issue at the beginning,” she said. “They started this in October, and since then they have gotten better and better and better.”
After their hard work, the students are doing a number of fund-raisers for globals, one of which is a GoFundMe.
“We’re doing pretty much every fundraiser we can think of because it is crazy expensive just to register for global,” Warnke said.