Creative competition puts DI teams to the test

Kayla Renie/The Herald
Cedar Crest Intermediate School sixth-graders Megan Steinmetz, left, and her twin sister, Riley, center, receive feedback from appraisers after competing in the engineering challenge during Destination Imagination regionals at Jasper Middle School on Saturday.


JASPER — Creative energy filled Jasper Middle School Saturday as teams of students from across Southern Indiana competed in Destination Imagination regionals.

DI is a global, educational nonprofit for students in kindergarten through college that involves participants in collaborative, creative problem-solving through a series of project-based challenges that cover STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — the arts and community service. Each team chooses the challenge they want to complete from the season’s list and spends months preparing their solution to the problem the challenge presents, as well as a skit to perform alongside their solution at competition.

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“It’s really fun being creative,” said Nora Welp, a sixth-grader at Cedar Crest Intermediate School who has participated in DI for four years.

This year, Nora’s team — the Ladies from the 80s — chose the engineering challenge. For the challenge, the team had to build a bridge out of playing cards that could support a toy car across an obstacle. They also had to create a skit about an unexpected connection and its outcome and build a set piece that transitioned between settings. Playing off the decade they named their team after, Nora and her teammates created a skit about a disagreement over whether roller skates or roller blades are better.

Megan Steinmetz, another Cedar Crest sixth-grader, said the team chose the challenge because of the bridge-building component.

“We wanted to be challenged,” she said.

Teams from Dubois County made up the majority of participants Saturday, with Greater Jasper, Southeast Dubois and Holy Trinity each being represented by multiple teams. Nancy Hanks Elementary, Lawrenceburg Community Schools, Sycamore School from Indianapolis and Scott County School District 2 from Scottsburg also participated.

Ferdinand Elementary second-grader Max Paulin points out second-grader Abbie Rickelman's handmade patches to the appraisers after completing the early learning challenge during Destination Imagination regionals at Jasper Middle School on Saturday.

The top three teams in each challenge advance to the state finals in March. Due to the number of teams participating at the southern regional challenge, all the teams will advance to state.

Despite knowing her team would advance, Jasper High School sophomore Elizabeth Engelberth felt nervous before her team competed in the improvisation challenge.

“I’m nervous at first, but once you get started, you dive right into it,” she said.

Elizabeth’s team — dubbed the Fantastic Four — would have to perform a five-minute improv skit after being given a problem to solve and a superpower for a super villain. Halfway through the skit, they would draw an underwhelming superpower for the hero to use to solve the problem. They drew super intelligence for their villain’s power and ballet shoes that were too heavy for their problem. For the underwhelming superpower, they drew air humidity manipulation.

After the challenge, the team felt good about their performance.

“People laughed a lot more than I thought they were going to,” said Isabelle Lorey, another JHS sophomore.

After the team challenge, the Fantastic Four headed to their instant challenge, a surprise challenge that can involve the arts or STEM and must be kept secret until after the global competition in May. That’s the official end to the DI season.

Children play in a bouncy house between challenges at Destination Imagination regionals at Jasper Middle School on Saturday.

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