McPherson will host an educational tournament this spring.

McPherson will host an educational tournament this spring.
Destination ImagiNation Inc. is an international non-profit organization that provides educational programs for students to learn and experience creativity, teamwork and problem solving. Participants are challenged to use their imagination to think quickly, work together and create original solutions that meet category requirements.
Six teams from Eisenhower Elementary School participated last year in Tonganoxie, and received top awards. Because community interest and attendance was so high for McPherson, and because local teacher Carmen Zeisler is now on the state Destination ImagiNation board, the event will take place in McPherson April 13.
"I'm very excited we'll be able to do this," McPherson Director of Instruction Angie McDonald said. "It fits so well with C3 (Citizenship, College and Career Readiness). You always hear what we're doing (in) middle school and high school in the C3 front. This is great for the elementary kids."
Since last year, McPherson's involvement has spiked. While 35 students from Eisenhower participated last year, 40 to 45 from all four elementary school and McPherson Middle School will take part this year. Local students will make up about 20 of the 30 teams across Kansas participating.
"It kind of just exploded in a great way," Zeisler said.
Washington Elementary School Principal Jill Beam and mother of two Destination ImagiNation participants last year, said it offers enrichment activities to kids.
"I've been able to witness it first hand," she said. "It was a really neat experience for both of my girls and I'm excited to see it go into all of the elementary schools."
Students in Destination ImagiNation this year will be given six new challenges, in categories of community service, technology, science, fine arts, structure and improvisation. This variety, Ziesler said, is what makes the program so unique.
"It's not just about education, it's about engineering, and community service," she said. "There's so many different aspects of this that people can jump on board."
This can help prepare them for their future.
"The goal of (Destination ImagiNation) is to help kids to become good problem solvers and be able to look and different perspectives and different ideas," Zeisler said. "We want to give them those tools. Kids have to be able to make decisions. I just think of them in their careers and how different it's going to be. We're able to challenge kids to do things they didn't think they could do."

Community support
In order to host an event like this, Zeisler is looking for McPherson adults willing to be appraisers, or judges, of the final presentations. Appraisers will work in teams with other adults across the state to determine winners. Scales will evaluate storytelling ability and creativity, for example.
Although it is not required, Zeisler is seeking appraisers that are experts in their fields, who will judge corresponding categories.
About 45 adults from McPherson are needed. These adults would need to participate in training on Feb. 28 and be available for judging April 13.
"It's a really neat opportunity to see problem solving in action," Zeisler said. "To be part of that (Destination ImagiNation) excitement is something that you can touch when you walk in. I think people would be amazed at what the kids can do."
Zeisler is also looking into using local high school and college students to assist with hosting.
To volunteer, contact Zeisler at by Feb. 15.
Zeisler said she is excited to get the community involved and host the event.
"It's a really neat experience to be able to show off McPherson and what we love about McPherson," she said. "I want schools from around the state to feel welcomed and see what a great city it is and that we're here to support our kids."

Contact Jenae Pauls at and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel.