Green Magnet Academy had never participated in the Destination Imagination challenge before this year, but when the elementary school finally fielded a team, it made a big splash.
In March, students from GMA took first place in the competition’s elementary school division during a regional competition in Chattanooga. On April 6, they’ll travel to Nashville to compete in the state competition while eyeing a possible spot in the global finals in Kansas City.
Leah Moir, a second-grade teaching assistant and reading specialist, spearheaded the creation of GMA’s team and said she’s been a believer in the program since her son, now 28, competed as a fifth- and sixth-grader at another school.
“I had loved the process, loved what it had done for his team … the socialization, the ability to problem-solve, and the ability to see what the kids can actually do when they’re given a challenge,” she said.
Destination Imagination – which until recently held its global finals event in Knoxville – is a cross-curricular program that aims to complement K-12 education by fostering curiosity, courage and creativity. Teams are given a challenge from a category of their choosing and spend two to four months developing their solution.
GMA students chose to compete in a fine arts category called “Game On,” which challenged them to present a game-related story that incorporated a “game gizmo.”
The GMA team – fourth-graders Sloan Frix, Dansten Nichols, Marlee Fields and Ahmad Mack and third-graders Birdie Lane and John Whittington – picked the classic board game Clue as their theme.
For their challenge, they enacted a theatrical scene featuring characters from the game and designed a container that carried all of their props and costumes. During the scene, the container was transformed into a stage set, including a pulley system that supported a fireplace backdrop and a set of cardboard legs that turned the container into a table.
Dansten, who plays the role of “Mr. Green,” said the backdrop was one of the group’s biggest challenges. Their original design fell apart, and “we tried a different design, but that didn’t work either.” With perseverance and creative thinking, the group finally landed on a design that worked, although they’re still refining the process.
Moir said the team has done a good job of jumping right back in when something doesn’t go quite right. “They’ve had a lot of problems with that pulley system, and they know that they’ve just got to get in there and keep working on it,” she said.
While the team’s victory may have been a surprise, they’re pushing to continue their run of success.
“At first, I didn’t really think we were going to win (at the regional competition),” said Ahmad, who plays a TV announcer in the show. “But now that we came in first place, I’m really happy and excited to go to Nashville and win.”
Josh Flory is a multi-media specialist with Knox County Schools and writes this blog, Hall Pass, for the KCS website.