Students solve complex problems at Destination Imagination

With a package of Life SaversTM, a whistle, feather, tennis shoe, fruit and various toys, fending off a charging rhinoceros and curious elephant may prove impossible.

Not for a group of fourth-graders from Craig Intermediate School. The fourth-graders participated in the Destination Imagination regional tournament April 1 in Grand Junction.

They decided to blow the whistle to startle and stop the charging rhino, and throw food at the elephant. With the rhino stopped, the students chose to tickle the preoccupied elephant with the feather and run through the jungle to safety.

They were given this impromptu predicament during the regional tournament, before presenting their real project one that took months to complete.

Fourth-grade, fifth-grade and sixth-grade teams from Craig competed in the regional tournament. The fourth- and sixth-grade teams had to build a "Fruit Roller Coaster" and were judged on the speed that one piece of fruit (a tennis ball) could achieve from start to end. The maximum amount that could be spent on the project was $100.

Fourth-graders competed in the elementary school division and placed seventh among 19 teams while sixth-graders, in the intermediate school division, placed fourth among 11 teams.

"The teams really pulled together. I am amazed at the ideas they came up with," facilitator Judy Muldoon said. "The main thing is it takes a lot of dedication and work just to get to regionals."

Students think of the ideas without help from adults. Facilitators such as Muldoon, and fifth-grade facilitator Paula Kinkaid, are there for support.

In the roller coaster competition, students had to build a roller coaster consisting of six areas: a loop, corkscrew (with two loops, each 12 inches in diameter), a jump (tennis ball had to leave a carriage and land back in it), the starting and ending points, and one area chosen by the students. Each section was to be 3-feet by 3-feet.

"The main judging point was speed how fast you could convey the ball from start to end point," Muldoon said. Other judging areas were creativity and how well the team worked together.

"The competition stresses teamwork," Muldoon said. The fourth- and sixth-graders also had to act out a skit about their particular roller coaster.

Kinkaid's team of fifth-graders competed in a competition entitled "Apples and Oranges." This competition called for teams to pick two species and create a habitat both could thrive in and perform a skit about the animals. The Craig fifth-graders chose a penguin and a beaver. According to Kinkaid, the kids soon realized how difficult it was for a penguin to build a dam without a flat, heavy tail. The team placed eighth against heavy competition.

"This has been an ongoing project for the students since December," Kinkaid said. "They did a terrific job, but not everyone can get first place."

Next year, Kinkaid and Muldoon will once again facilitate competitions for young minds. They are always looking for community members to help. For more information on the program, call Muldoon or Kinkaid at 824-5762.

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