SHERIDAN — Three of the 13 teams that represented Wyoming at the Destination Imagination Global Competition in Knoxville, Tennessee, were from Sheridan County. The competition May 24-28 was the culminating activity for the largest worldwide creative problem solving organization for students.
The goals of the Destination Imagination program are creativity, problem solving and teamwork in each of six different challenges. Sheridan County teams competed at the global competition at the University of Tennessee with other states and 21 countries.
“All of the local teams worked hard, made Wyoming proud and connected with other students from around the world,” local DI coordinator LaDonna Leibrich said. “The number of competing teams was overwhelming. The competition is fierce but there is a real camaraderie in stretching the realms of creativity and teamwork.”
According to the Destination Imagination website, the five-day competition hosted by the University of Tennessee involved 1,464 teams with an estimated 17,000 attendees. More than 500 appraisers from around the world volunteered their time to officiate. The education event included a science expo, pin trading, camps and workshops sponsored by NASA, Broadway Master Class Series and Ford.
“There is so much to do and see at globals,” said Marcia McChesney, the Wyoming affiliate director for DI. “One of the most amazing events at globals is the opening ceremonies which occur inside the University of Tennessee arena.”
Each of the states, provinces and countries march in with their flag and a small delegation of its members. Luke Grutzmacher, a member of the Sheridan Junior High School team, carried the Wyoming flag.
“Stepping out in front of thousands of people with teammates to my side is most definitely one of the best feelings in the world,” Grutzmacher said. “I held the Wyoming flag. I showed the world that Wyoming is proud of what we have done. I couldn’t help but smile when cameras flashed and people reached out for high-fives. Destination Imagination 2016 global finals was an amazing experience but showing Wyoming who we were and that we are proud to be Wyoming made my whole experience better.”
For the first time in DI history, a Wyoming team placed in the “Top Ten” culminating score. The two person, Meadowlark School Improv “Close Encounters” team tied with South Korea for ninth place. The team was comprised of Allen Bergman, a fifth-grader and Tanyon Keller, a fourth-grader. The team did research on six confined spaces including a tree house and the art of paper folding during their weekly DI practices. In the four-minute improv performance, Keller drew at random a mayor as the mysterious character and was able to incorporate a newsflash about a ribbon dancer winning a talent contest. All during the performance a piece of newspaper was changing from a ribbon in a pouch, to nunchucks, to a bird, licenses and other changeable objects. This humorous tale took place within the confined space of a windy tree house full of wildlife making it impossible for the ribbon dancer, Bergman, to practice.
The second part of the team’s competition was an instant challenge involving a bridge like structure around several different sized objects.
“The instant challenge at Globals had to do with engineering, and it was very easy,” Bergman said. “I hope to be an engineer when I grow up.”
Both of the other teams from Sheridan Junior High School and Tongue River Middle School competed in the “Pace of Change” challenge featuring the construction of a vehicle with two changing forms of propulsion and two changing forms of movement. The SJHS team featured a hovercraft with propulsion from a leaf blower and gravity ramp with wheels. The vehicle was not only changing but carrying a team member during each of the trips. The challenge included having to switch the propulsion system 20 times during the eight-minute performance. The instant challenge featured the building of five different structures with the use of different materials in a three minute time limit.
The team from Tongue River Middle School used a drill as a form of propulsion and cart with wheels. The presentation story involved members traveling in time and the main character having a change of heart. This team’s instant challenge emphasized teamwork. The instant challenge involved straightforward communicating between team members and transporting tennis balls in a timed scenario involving a black light.
One of the Tongue River team’s highlights involved being a “Buddy Team” with a team from Turkey. Team member Izzy Carbert said she has fond memories of the experience.
“Meeting and becoming friends with people from different countries is pretty amazing,” Carbert said. “I was very surprised on how much and how little our countries have in common. Overall, it was a really great experience.”
Her team member, Grace Sopko added that “being able to hang out with people from a foreign country is really a once in a lifetime experience.”