Winterport fourth-grade team has a blast in Knoxville, Tenn.
A team of fourth-graders from Leroy H.Smith School in Winterport attended the Destination Imagination global finals in at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. May 19-24.
Destination Imagination, a nonprofit education organization whose goal is to "inspire and equip students to become the next generation of innovators and leaders," hosts the annual global finals event in which teams of students from 48 states and 30 countries come together to compete and celebrate the creative process.
The Winterport team calling themselves the "Freezing Diamonds," placed second in the science category in the state tournament in March, earning the chance to attend the global finals. They were able to raise all the money they needed for their seven-member team and chaperones to travel to the University of Tennessee and attend the event through the support of the Winterport-area community. In Knoxville, they placed about 40th overall out of 48 teams.
The Freezing Diamonds' strength is their teamwork and ability to think on their feet: in the "instant challenge" portion of the competition they placed near the top 10, according to team sponsor Erica Farrar. Instant challenges give teams five minutes to plan and execute a solution to a problem using only the materials provided to them. In the state tournament they came in first in the instant challenge and won the "Spirit of DI" award for their teamwork and sportsmanship, according to previously published reports.
The instant challenge at globals was to build a weight-bearing connection between two lengths of chain using only a few mailing labels, straws, paper, pencils and similar materials — with more points going to the teams with longer connections.
"They went into the instant challenge and were successful because of their teamwork," said Farrar. "Everybody had ideas that were heard; they were encouraging to each other; and they paired off and worked together," all skills they can bring with them to their workplaces later in life.
Through participating on the Destination Imagination team and attending the global finals, Farrar said she watched the students gain confidence in themselves and in what they were doing, as exhibited by their eagerness to talk about their experience to the media.
"Previously they were uncomfortable speaking in public," said Farrar.
"Also, traveling was an amazing opportunity for them, and meeting kids from around the country and around the world," Farrar added. She said working closely with an older team from Texas on one of the challenges was a valuable experience for the team.
The event also included some fun activities for the students. They attended the annual Duct-Tape Ball, where a new Guinnes World Record was set: the largest gathering of people in one place wearing duct-tape clothing (The 3M Company, a maker of duct-tape and a sponsor of the global finals, coordinated this event). Seven hundred fifty-two people assembled at a costume ball, with a variety of duct-tape articles and accessories. Two of the Winterport girls posed for a photographer on their way into the ball and were featured on the front page of the Global Finals newspaper, which was distributed throughout Knoxville.
Freezing Diamond team members are Olivia Saucier, Carly Philbrook, Elizabeth Burgess, Sam Jagger, Erica Farrar, Renee Drake and Johannah Philbrook.