Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Destination Imagination: Where #GF17 & #MakerEd Unite

Expect the Unexpected. That was the theme of 2017's Destination Imagination Global Finals. As I mentioned a week ago, when we started on this Destination Imagination [aka: DI] adventure, DI is the epitome of the maker movement. After living knee-deep at Globals for 5 days or so, it bears being repeated as I reflect in awe on our entire experience.

1470 teams went to Destination Imagination. 8000+ students made up those teams... teams which were from 48 states and 17 countries. It's 8 hours from Maryland to Knoxville, Tennessee I can only imagine how far Maine is (as we saw a DI painted van at our first pit stop, 2 hours into driving home Sunday).

Of course California, China, Poland, South Korea and Australia are a bit farther. (We didn't see their vans....for obvious reasons!)

We had 4 full-on days between Opening Ceremonies and Closing Ceremonies, plus driving days as bookends on each side. We clocked 12,000 to 16,000 steps per day on my pedometer, traipsing around University of Tennessee's campus from lunch to performances (ours and others) to pin trading to the expo to the Duct Tape Costume Ball, to the Recreation Center for outdoor adventures and swimming to more. It was incredible, intense, awe/inspiring.

They certainly know how to rock a party, sync a #STEM activity, and keep the creativity coming! 

We "Safety Scrambled" a raw-egg-riding-vehicle, using only limited materials (unfortunately, with no success--twice!). We virtually visited the International Space Center. We attempted to synchronize-build Lego structures via cooperation & communication, behind the walls of shoe boxes, based on words alone, sight unseen. And did I mention the pin-trading! A culture in and of itself!  

Amongst our antics, our team "Double-O-Severn" embarked on their own Central Challenge: Show & Tech. Pearls of wisdom came from every direction. Even at the pool or at breakfast (both of which served as good pin-trading venues) with the Guatamalan DI team members we met who were also staying at our hotel.

Then of course too, there were the Instant Challenges that each team performed. We couldn't have been more delighted or proud when our "Double O Severn" boys came in 2nd place of 81 teams in this category for their Show & Tech division! This was a major triumph as that didn't always come easy in practice... which perhaps made that victory feel even sweeter.

It was a fascinating all along the way, but certainly eye-opening at Closing Ceremonies. China did remarkably well across the board, but especially in the Engineering, Technical, & Scientific Central Challenges. Kudos to China, and all of the high scoring teams! Watching theses results illustrated just how many teams China had brought to Knoxville! Yet, as an American, I saw the future reflected & projected in those fields ...and it was not necessarily in my country. As Americans have been past leaders in the scientific arena, I was startled by these 4th grade through college-leveled kids and their scores. Future indeed. This could be a place to "insert political discussion here" given our country's current leadership & some of the recent, prevailing stances regarding science, innovation, and progress; however, I'm just going to let that statement lie here for contemplation.

* * * * *

The Opening Ceremonies (which darn-near felt like we were at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies--parade, pomp, circumstance, and all) were incredibly moving. These words in particular were quite memorable:
  • "Everyday is an instant challenge."
  • "What motivates me to be creative is purpose and passion."
  • "Teamwork can change the world."
The experience of each team at every step along the way built individual and team creativity, collaboration, problem solving & communication skills, confidence, poise, and courage. Through both the course of the year and the week at Globals, we saw with our boys a strengthening of character, and a full circle transformation as they worked through the rough spots, coalescing into a team.

It reminded me of those credit card commercials, listing out exact costs of pins, lunch tickets, hotels prices, and more,....yet DI Globals: priceless! The memories & skills gained were certainly worth it, and will last a lifetime!!

DI Video from; pictures from my camera.

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