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Cortez Destination Imagination teams headed to state finals

‘Creativity challenge’ gives students other perspectives
The Sparkly Marshmallows Destination Imagination team — sixth-graders Jayden Thomason, Amber Hebberd, Makayla Wayman, Lizzie Likes and Jocelyn Calderon — heads to state finals in Denver next month. The team qualified in second place at the Southwest Colorado Regional in Durango on Feb. 25.

After qualifying at the Southwest Colorado Regional Tournament in Durango on Feb. 25, two Cortez Middle School Destination Imagination teams are headed to state finals in Denver on April 22.

Teams of up to seven students solve a critical-thinking challenge before judges as part of Destination Imagination, or DI. The activity combines multiple learning disciplines, from engineering to history and world cultures, CMS teacher Katherine Freeman said.

“It’s a creativity challenge,” she said. “Students work independently without outside help to solve problems.”

The Sparkly Marshmallows team is made up of sixth-graders Jayden Thomason, Amber Hebberd, Jocelyn Calderon, Lizzie Likes and Makayla Wayman. They qualified in second place at the Durango regional, where only the top two teams advanced to state finals. A second CMS team, made up of eighth-grade boys, also qualified for finals, Freeman said. It is the second year she has worked with DI teams at CMS, she said.

The Sparkly Marshmallows selected the engineering challenge, in which they had to build a very light structure out of balsa wood that could hold a large amount of weight. They also created a skit to go along with the challenge. In the skit, France and Italy soccer teams are playing in the first World Cup and must join forces to achieve world peace instead of world war.

The team’s structure weighed about 44 grams and held 260 pounds of weights, Amber said.

“You’re trying to think outside the box and out-think other teams,” she said.

Other challenge categories include the improv challenge, which is the category the other team from CMS selected, Freeman said.

The Sparkly Marshmallows also earned the Spirit of DI award in Durango, and were one of only two teams across all age categories to get the award, Freeman said.

When they arrived in Durango, the team’s structure was too heavy, so they had to improvise and rebuild it, Freeman said. They got the spirit award in part because of their quick thinking to come up with a new structure, she said.

“I was very impressed with how they rebuilt their structures,” Freeman said.

Makayla said the activity teaches her how to use time wisely. Jocelyn said she likes DI because she learned how to build things during the challenges.

“You have to work on your own as a team,” Jocelyn said.

Lizzie said she likes that DI allows the team to be creative.

“You can go anywhere you want with the challenges,” she said.

Amber said the team might rethink how they build their structures before the competition, and they might revise the skit.

The girls are excited to travel to Denver and see the sights. Freeman said it’s a valuable experience for students.

“It’s a cool opportunity for kids to compete with others from around the state and see different perspectives,” Freeman said.