Destination Imagination and The Occupy Mars Learning Adventures

Kids Talk Radio Science has discovered an exciting organization that is making it possible for kids to improve creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication.   These are some of the very skills that we need our students to participate at a high level of “The Occupy Mars Learning Adventures.”   We have just begun having conversations to explore how both groups can collaborate to help build stronger STEM programs for students from around the world.   We invite you to explore this exciting program.    Bob Barboza, STEM and STEAM++ Director

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Destination Imagination

Destination Imagination (DI) is a volunteer-led, educational non-profit organization that teaches 21st century skills and STEM[Note 1] principles to kindergarten through university level students through creative and collaborative problem solving challenges. Team members work together to develop a solution to one of 7 open-ended challenges and present their solutions at tournaments. Through the Challenge program, students learn and experience the creative process from imagination to innovation and learn skills needed to succeed in school, career and life, including teamwork, communication, project management, perseverance, creative and critical thinking, and self-confidence.

History

Destination Imagination was founded in 1999. It emerged as the result of a dispute between splinter factions within the Odyssey of the Mind Organization, which originated 20 years earlier in 1978 as a creative problem solving competition at Glassboro State College in New Jersey. On September 24, 1999, Odyssey of the Mind Association, Inc. (the non-profit group responsible for holding international creative-thinking competitions), and Creative Competitions, Inc. (the for-profit group holding intellectual property on and generating sales on support materials), reached an agreement wherein Creative Competitions would retain intellectual property rights and both organizations would sponsor separate creative competitions. During the dispute, Odyssey volunteers formed another problem-solving organization, DestiNation ImagiNation, because they feared the legal dispute would hold up the year’s competition. DestiNation ImagiNation subsequently merged with OM Association “to help unify [its] volunteers and make (our group) the pre-eminent world-class problem-solving program for students,” according to then-OM Association Executive Director Robert Purifico.[2]

In 2011, researchers from the University of Virginia Curry School of Education conducted an independent research evaluation of the DI program. The evaluation focused on the program’s effectiveness, impact and participant satisfaction in areas relating to creative problem-solving, creative and critical thinking, teamwork and leadership. Among other findings, the researchers reported, “Students who participated in the activities and tournaments provided by DI outperformed comparable students who had not participated in DI on assessments measuring creative thinking, critical thinking and collaborative problem solving.

Challenge Program

Team Challenges are designed by industry experts, educators and volunteers.[citation needed] The standards-based challenges have both long and short-term components. In August of each year, Destination Imagination releases seven new challenges, pertaining to different subject matter areas that a team must solve. Teams then have until the date of their first tournament to work on the challenges. All challenges include a presentation portion, rehearsed or on the spot. The types of team challenges include technical, scientific, fine arts, improvisational, structural, service learning, and early learning challenges. Each of the seven challenges in the DI program is designed to enable students to develop 21st Century skills, including teamwork, perseverance, self-directed learning, courage and leadership. While working as a team to devise a solution, the students also learn to value each person’s abilities and unique strengths.

Types of Team Challenges

Each year, Destination Imagination releases seven challenges geared to specific learning objectives. These challenges are then solved by teams.

Technical

The Technical Challenge requires teams to build equipment, such as vehicles, in order to solve their challenge. They must also include a performance, in a specific form or about a general topic supplied with the challenge. In addition, the challenge requires teams to create specific elements unique to the team that will count as Team Choice Elements. The team will be evaluated on their creativity and originality, the quality, workmanship and effort, and the integration of the elements into the presentation. Normally, Team Choice Elements account for 15% of a team’s score. The Team Choice Element can be anything that the team chooses, as long as it is not a scoring element.

Scientific

The Scientific Challenge requires teams to do research on a specific aspect of science, and then create a performance based on it. Sometimes, there is also a specific requirement to build a certain kind of prop or costume. In addition, the challenge requires teams to create two specific elements unique to the team that will count as Team Choice Elements. The team will be evaluated on the creativity and originality, the quality, workmanship and effort, and the integration of the element into the presentation. Normally, Team Choice Elements account for 15% of a team’s score. The Team Choice Element can be anything that the team chooses, as long as it is not a scoring element.

Fine Arts

The Fine Arts Challenge requires teams to create and act out a performance that demonstrates some theatrical technique. It may be to use a certain method of presentation or to make a certain type of prop. In addition, the challenge requires teams to create two specific elements unique to the team that will count as Team Choice Elements. The team will be evaluated on the creativity and originality, the quality, workmanship and effort, and the integration of the element into the presentation. Normally, Team Choice Elements account for 15% of a team’s score. The Team Choice Element can be anything that the team chooses, as long as it is not a scoring element.

Improvisational

The Improvisational Challenge requires teams to think on their feet and create a skit within a short window of time, and then present it. There is usually a theme, of some sort, as well as a prop requirement that requires teams to create or incorporate different props. The team will also be evaluated for teamwork in this challenge.

Structural

The Structural Challenge requires teams to create a structure, with material and weight requirements, as well as an accompanying performance that has to do with some aspect of the structure. The structures are scored using a weight held ratio (WHR), where the weight held at the tournament is divided over the weight of the structure, to create a fair comparison of team structures. Some years, there have been additional elements that the team had to incorporate into their structures, such as holding golf balls. By performing these extra tasks, the team may receive additional weight held credit. In addition, the challenge requires teams to create two specific elements unique to the team that will count as Team Choice Elements. The team will be evaluated on the creativity and originality, the quality, workmanship and effort, and the integration of the element into the presentation. Normally, Team Choice Elements account for 15% of a team’s score. The Team Choice Element can be anything that the team chooses, as long as it is not a scoring element.

 

Service Learning

The Service Learning Challenge, also known as project OUTREACH, requires teams to do a service project that benefits their community, and then create a performance to present at the tournament. The challenge always has a theme that the team has to incorporate into their skit, or the way they carry out their project. For some program seasons, the challenge requires teams to create two specific elements unique to the team that will count as Team Choice Elements. The team will be evaluated on the creativity and originality, the quality, workmanship and effort, and the integration of the element into the presentation. Normally, Team Choice Elements account for 15% of a team’s score. The Team Choice Element can be anything that the team chooses, as long as it is not a scoring element.

Early Learning

For kids 4-to-7 years of age, Destination Imagination offers the Rising Stars! for Early Learners Challenge. The challenge encourages kids to be creative and is noncompetitive, which allows kids to play and experiment with their solutions without pressure. The children can also partake in the showcase option, which allows them to present their solutions at a tournament.

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Kids Talk Radio Afghanistan : The Hard Path from Afghanistan to the Classroom

Every high school student should read this story.

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Kids Talk Radio is opening up visual radio stations around the world.  We are looking for your stories.  We want to inspire our students.  Send us your story and make sure that every high school student reads this story……….. Bob Barboza, http://www.KidsTalkRadioLA.com.

The Hard Path from Afghanistan to the Classroom

Staff Sgt. Ryan Blum, Kunduz Province, Afghanistan
Commentary: A Soldier Writes

A month before I started my freshman year of high school, my father was killed in a cycling accident. Overnight my mother became a single parent and our sole breadwinner. She was forced to work twelve-hour days to maintain our standard of living and consequently I was often alone in an empty house.

Like most teenagers, I rebelled. With the loss of my father came a profound loss of discipline in my life. Combined with the sudden absence of my mother who was now compelled to work long hours, the tragedy had an…

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Teachers and students from around the world: We need your help with the Occupy Mars Project

The new Kids Talk Radio Science Channel will be updating you on what is going on in the world of STEM NEWS (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).  Our goal is to work with students from around the world on our new projects: The Occupy Mars Learning Adventures, NASA Needs Your Help, and the Cabo Verde Tenth Island Project.  We have just started a series of hands on STEAM++ (science, technology, engineering, visual and performing arts, mathematics, computer languages and foreign language) workshops in California and will continue through 2015-2016 and beyond.  For more information  about workshops and projects you can contact:

Bob Barboza at Suprschool@aol.com or visit: http://www.KidsTalkRadioLA.com and http://www.OccupyMars.WordPress.com.

STEM NEWS

Doug Podcasting from Antarctica

Students Collaborate Worldwide on Science, Engineering
By Lynn Petrinjak | Published: May 12, 2015
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A student at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado, holds up a prototype rechargeable lantern for inspection by collaborating students at the CHAT House in Uganda via Skype. Photo courtesy of Heidi Hood
A student at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado, holds up a prototype rechargeable lantern for inspection by collaborating students at the CHAT House in Uganda via Skype. Photo courtesy of Heidi Hood
It’s an international effort that may be unique: Students in the United States and Canada are working together to design 3D–printed, portable, battery-powered, rechargeable lanterns that students in Uganda and the Dominican Republic, who do not have reliable access to electricity, will field test. This isn’t an act of charity, it’s a “global collaboration to use kids’ unique talents and technology to make the world a better place,” says Tracey Winey, media specialist at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado.

“The premise of the program is everybody has different talents,” she continues. “It’s not one group serving another. Each [group] is contributing unique talents to make a successful program. We have laid a foundation that everybody’s voice is important.”

The groups include students at Preston Middle School; Riverview High School in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada; the Care and Hope through Adoption and Technology (CHAT) House in Uganda; the Dominican Republic; and Pheasey Park Farm Primary School and Children’s Centre in Walsall, United Kingdom.

At Preston Middle School, students in the One Million Lights Club visit Winey’s media center before and after school and during lunch to work on the project. Along with Winey and John Howe, the school’s vice principal, they have Skyped with CHAT House students to learn more about their particular needs for the portable lights and shared their designs with the Riverview students. The CHAT House students also will field test the lights designed and built in Colorado. Winey says the CHAT House students will check the circuits to make sure they work and track how long the lights last, how many cranks are needed to charge the battery for how many minutes of light, whether the light is strong enough, how long batteries must be plugged into solar panels to be fully charged, and more. Their feedback will help the Preston students improve their designs.

“One byproduct [of the project] is light, but another is to foster global collaboration…[while] creating philanthropy in our kids,” explains Winey. “Our kids learn so much content through this program. This isn’t a class; my kids come before school, after school. Kids are motivated because they are curious and they know their work matters.”

And it does. While speaking with the CHAT House students, Winey’s students learned they wanted handheld lights so they would be able to identify predatory animals and other threats when they left the main CHAT House building to visit outhouses during the night. Her students also learned that while CHAT House has a generator for reliable light inside the orphanage, most of the surrounding village does not, which could lead to resentment. Sharing rechargeable lights with their neighbors would help build a stronger sense of community.

At Riverview High School, science teacher Ian Fogarty shares the story of Maria and Hailey with his students. In August 2014, one of his students met the two girls in the Dominican Republic. They both dream of becoming doctors, but struggle to study after dark when their home only has electricity a few nights a week.

“Engineering seems to be a nice mix of purposeful science,” Fogarty says. Instead of getting “lost in our science lab,” he adds, philanthropic engineering projects provide concrete answers to why students learn about circuits. “Now they are learning to help somebody. I tell them, ‘Here’s their story, here’s how we can help.’ It gives content real-life purpose…The motivation is ‘We’re going to learn this to help somebody; if we don’t learn, someone is going to suffer.’ There is no middle ground; either it works or it doesn’t.”

Fogarty was able to add the light project to his existing curriculum. “It wasn’t a big change in the classroom. It was a change of focus. We can do the same tests as before,” he explains. His ninth-grade students do the same circuitry labs as in previous years, but do them with Maria and Hailey in mind. In his 10th-grade Broad Based Technology course, students use Google SketchUp to draw cases for the flashlights, while 11th- and 12th-grade physics students go into greater depths working with electronics and microprocessors. The Science 12 class, which “blends the borders [among] science, humanities, and language arts,” also examines the role of the local culture, investigating how they will get the lights to Maria and Hailey (and other students in similar situations), he relates.

“Engineering is the last gender gap, I think,” remarks Fogarty. “In this project, eight out of 12 students are girls. Three [female] students not in class are checking in weekly. They tell me, ‘We’re invested in it now. We want to see it through.’ One of the goals is gender equity in science moving forward; this seems to be helping that out quite a bit.”

The Fort Collins and Moncton students shared their designs with one another electronically. Winey explains the Moncton students knew more about circuitry than her middle school students did, and her students had more experience in virtual collaboration and 3D printing. In addition to collaborating on circuitry with Winey’s students in Colorado, Fogarty’s students worked across the Atlantic Ocean with Gareth Hancox’s fourth-grade students at Pheasey Park Farm Primary.

“My students taught those students about circuits and sent them a design task [to create] cases. Each kid spent five [to] eight hours of [his or her] own time designing lights. They pitched their designs to us and really challenged what my high school kids were thinking…They’ve helped us with brainstorming design,” says Fogarty. The elementary students’ designs included glow-in-the-dark cases, dimmer switches, and options to make the lights wearable.

Hancox notes this “revolutionary approach to learning…between elementary and high school students on different continents has been a giant leap forward in learning. Both sets of students had interesting, sensible, and exciting ideas on how best to approach the problem of supplying light to students in the Dominican Republic. What happened next was true collaboration; the younger students presented their designs over a Skype video presentation with immediate feedback from Canada. Ideas however ‘out of the box’ were discussed, and certain elements were further developed until a final design was agreed upon by all the students.” He adds that it has been incredibly important for his students “to work on a real project with definitive outcomes that will change the lives of others.”

Fogarty and Winey also tapped into resources in their local communities. He has had an engineer “loaned” from a technology company check that the students were designing with safety in mind, and a university professor visit while students worked on circuit boards. Volunteers from Intel worked with Winey’s students on soldering, and the school’s computer science and electronics teacher checked students’ circuits. “The beauty of it is that people who want to come, come. It’s truly motivated by people…serving for the sake of serving,” Winey says.

UNESCO has declared 2015 the Year of Light to raise awareness about light-based technologies and how they can be used to promote sustainable development and resolve energy, education, agriculture, and health challenges. Winey and Fogarty hope more educators will be inspired to make philanthropic engineering part of their curriculum.

With Howe, they launched a website, http://www.philanthropic-engineering.org, to share how they have made creating reliable light sources for others central to their students’ learning experiences. Fogarty hopes to eventually add more philanthropic engineering materials—such as designs for an automated greenhouse a group of his students have been working on to support a community garden—to the site.

This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of NSTA Reports, the member newspaper of the National Science Teachers Association.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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Kids Talk Radio Needs Your Help

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How would you like to report the news from your country to students from around the world?

Kids Talk Radio can use your help.   We are looking for student journalists from grades 5 thorough 12. We need you for our new volunteer intern program. You must have parent permission to participate. Your job is to report the news from your country in the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). We will provide you with free training.

How to apply?

  1. Your parents, guardians or teachers must send us a letter asking permission for you to participate in this program.
  2. You must write a sample news story and send it to Suprschool.com.
  3. We will need an MP3 or Wav file of you doing a sample news report for radio.

Questions:

Contact: Bob Barboza at Suprschool@aol.com

You can follow our work at:

www.KidsTalkRadioLA.com

www.KidsTalkRadioUSA.com

www.OccupyMars.WordPress.com

www.SuperSchoolUniversity.WordPress.com

www.KidsTalkRadioWorld.WordPress.com

www.Youtube.com/user/KidsTalkRadio