Moffat County kids showcase imagination at state competition | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County kids showcase imagination at state competition

Elementary students Ryan Peck, Michael Profumo, Abbe Adams, Emma Jones and Olivia Profumo make up the Destination Imagination team known as the Neon Endermens. The team practices for the state competition Tuesday with their talking, moving robot named Bob. They placed eighth in the Creature Feature division out of 27 teams at the state competition in Denver Saturday.

— From high stakes Jenga to robot creatures with hydraulic arms, 19 of Moffat County's elementary students put their creative and teamwork skills to the test for the Destination Imagination state competition Saturday in Denver.

Three teams from Craig qualified for state at the regional competition in March by showcasing the projects they had spent the past two months building.

Destination Imagination is a program that encourages innovation and teamwork among kids through projects that incorporate STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the arts and service learning, according to the organization's website.

One team, comprised of four fifth-graders and one third-grader from Ridgeview and Sunset elementary schools, selected the "Creature Feature" challenge. Dubbing themselves the "Neon Endermens," the team got together twice a week starting in January to build "Bob," a robot who could speak, move, and build things.

"Before, I didn't even know what hydraulics were. Hydraulics are these things you use to move the arms in different directions," fifth-grader Emma Jones said as she demonstrated with several syringes full of neon fluid.

The project also challenged the team to create a story about Bob — and his harrowing journey from L.A. to Tokyo — that the kids narrated and acted out as they demonstrated what their creature could do.

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Another team, the Seven Smart Cookies — comprised of second- through fourth-graders Gabriel Lowther, Megan Neton, Wyatt Tucker, Evan Atkin, Avery Atkin, Hudson Jones and Carson Laehr — had to build a structure using only natural wood, playing cards, tape and glue. The finished product could weigh no more than 75 grams and had to support the weight of a 12-pound board while the team removed pieces of the structure, much like the game of Jenga.

All teams also have to perform instant challenges in addition to showing off their masterpieces. The kids are given a problem, materials and five minutes to come up with a solution, such as building a tower as tall as possible out of straws, pipe cleaners and plastic cups that can withstand the force of a fan on high without blowing over.

"The instant challenge was really difficult (at state) and they were amazing at it," said Neon Endermens coach Amy Peck. "It was not something that we had ever really practiced before, it was complex and they just did a fabulous job. That was pretty cool to see them really come together when they needed to shine."

The Endermens team placed eighth out of 27 teams in the "Creature Feature" division. Both the Cookies and a team from Sandrock Elementary School dubbed the Seven Dwarves (Thayne Kitchen, Evan Allen, Jacie Evenson, Tanner Zimmerman, Tucker Zimmerman, Cole Marren and Forest Siminoe) competed in the "Lose to Win" challenge, placing 13th and 17th, respectively, out of 22 teams.

"It's really a mind challenge, so instead of going home and playing video games, it expands your mind," Emma said. "We just have a lot of fun and we have a really good teamwork bond."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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