MOUNT VERNON — For the first time, Mount Vernon City Schools will be represented in the state Destination Imagination contest.
East Elementary’s Golden Eagles, who outperformed 13 other teams in the central Ohio regional competition which showcases pupils’ creativity, problem-solving skills and teamwork, will advance to the state tournament to be held at Mount Vernon High School and Middle School on April 17.
Team members include fourth-graders Ethan Buehrer, Aidan Clarkson, Grace Eades, Mary Harris and Conrad Stein, and third-grader Noah Zoldak. Steve Stein is the team manager and Hollly Frackman is the appraiser (judge).
The Eagles said it feels good to be going to state.
“Mr. Stein told us we are not going to state [competition] after our central challenge,” said Ethan. “He said there were some things that we messed up on, so that means other teams messed up more than we did. We are going to state.”
At the tournament, the students had to demonstrate to the judges that they came up with the challenge solution themselves. In addition to the prepared team challenges, competitors were presented with an instant challenge at the tournament. They went into a room, and were given a challenge and the materials with which to solve it. Then they had to use their thinking-on-their-feet skills to produce a solution in less than eight minutes.
DI teams are allowed to choose their prepared team challenge. Stein said the Eagles selected Challenge D: “DO or DI,” which features improvisational acting, story development, teamwork and research skills. The challenge has to do with something in danger of extinction, and the team must use a stock character and an “unimpressive superpower” to save the day.
During a seven-minute preparation time period, the Eagles created a five-minute improvisational skit about a “Threatened Thing” in danger of extinction.
The Eagles’ skit was about hunters, played by Grace and Conrad, who are trying to bag an endangered gopher tortoise, Noah, so they can make turtle soup. Mary the police officer intervenes, as does Aidan, a superhero who never gets nervous. Ethan was both a tree and the narrator.
Ethan explained how one prepares for an impromptu challenge.
“We had 20 [threatened] things that we had to assign [for research purposes], so we tried to assign them equally. And we had had 10 different stock characters, such as an insincere person and the superstitious person.”
“Also,” Conrad added, “we mostly didn’t use improv, like making it up when we went there. We had most of it already planned out. A few things we did make up. We did the gopher tortoise.”
Noah played the tortoise.
“It wasn’t hard to act like a turtle,” he said. “I just pretty much walked around on my hands and knees and said ‘shoe.’ ... We aren’t allowed to have any costumes for it.”
Grace said they also could not take any props, so the players had to use pantomime to get their ideas across.
“That wasn’t very hard,” she said. “We had a narrator and we also had an introduction that told who the characters were.”
An unimpressive superpower, said Mary, was determined at the competition.
“There was like a card on the front of the stage,” she said, “and we had to pick it up. Ours happened to be the person who would never get nervous. Whoever picked up the card had to act it out.”
Aidan listed some of the stock characters: The shamelessly greedy person, the coward, superstitious person and the insincere person. Some of the threatened things were Yiddish, telephone landlines, glaciers and the carnivorous pitcher plant found in rain forests.
Wiggin Street Elementary also had teams in the regional contest. One chose the DiBot challenge, and created a robot that changed someone’s life for the better.
Wiggins Street’s Rising Stars participated in a noncompetitive activity which involved building a structure using newspaper and tape, and writing a story related to the structure.
The East Elementary Golden Eagles will represent Region 4 Challenge D, Elementary Level, at the state tournament, and compete against the 10 other Destination Imagination regions in Ohio.
Winners at the State Tournament will go on to the Destination Imagination Global Finals, held at the end of May in Knoxville, Tenn.