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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