Students from across the state converged on McPherson Saturday for a day of science, service and art.

Students from across the state converged on McPherson Saturday for a day of science, service and art.

Eisenhower Elementary School hosted 323 elementary and middle school students for the state Destination Imagination conference.

Students in the program participate in one of seven challenges that encourage problem-solving skills and creativity.

They pick one challenge and have three to six months to solve the problem, said Carmen Zeisler, Eisenhower third-grade teacher. The students presented their solutions to judges Saturday.

Some of the challenges included science, fine arts, structures and community service.

For example, in Twist Aroma, students were challenged to build a structure using a set list of materials with a total weight of no more than 190 grams. Those structures where then tested to see how much weight they could withstand.

Students participating in the community outreach portion of the competition developed community service projects and then presented documentaries about the results of those projects on Saturday.

One group of McPherson students created an early reading program for infants. The students sponsored a book drive for the project. They then but together bags of books that contained letters to parents about the importance of reading to infants.

The third graders finally delivered the bags of books to McPherson hospital on Friday.

Students from Clark Middle School in Bonner Springs participated in an RC car challenge called In the Zone. The students were required to develop three cars powered by three different means of propulsion. The students first car was gravity driven. A battery attached to its top gave it weight. The second car was driven by an electric capacitor. The third car was made from light-weight Styrofoam and was powered by air escaping from a balloon. The student’s had to measure the distance each car traveled. The balloon car in this case traveled the furthermost.

A group of students from Clark also participated in an acting improvisation group.

“We learned teamwork,” said Emily Rose, 12, a member of the improv group. “We got to meet new people.”

Peyton Capehart said she and the other students had a lot of challenges to overcome in order to improve.

Students who participate in the Destination Imagination challenges have to sign declarations of independence in which they promise all the work they have done on their projects is their own.

“In Destination Imagination, adults are hands off,” Zeisler said. “Parents and sponsors can guide, but they can’t have a part in the solution.”

The students build many skills during the challenges, Zeisler said. She said the community service students, for example had to learn commitment and flexibility.

“In the skills teams, the students are really learning about their strengths and weaknesses. There are things they may be nervous about, but they are learning skills that they will be able to use when they work in business and their careers. I think these skills translate into that.”

McPherson had 20 teams in the tournament this year. McPherson took home eight trophies, which consist of  four first-place trophies, two second-place trophies and two third-place trophies.

Local placing are as follows:

Structural challenge:

First place — McPherson Middle School — team manager, Paul Carver

Third place — fifth-grade team Eisenhower Elementary — team manager, Melissa Strathman

Improvisation challenge:

First place — Eisenhower Elementary — team manager, Carmen Zeisler

Second place — Roosevelt Elementary — team manager, Ami Schrader and Jennifer Pickerall

Third-place — Washington Elementary — team manager, Jim Bontrager

Technical challenge:

Second place — Eisenhower Elementary — team manager, Kathleen Powers

Scientific challenge:

First place — Roosevelt Elementary — team manager, Jennifer Love

Community service:

First place — Eisenhower Elementary, team manager, Carmen Zeisler

DaVinci Award for Outstanding Creativity — fourth-grade team — Eisenhower Elementary — team manager, Pat Bauer

Spirit of Discovery and Imagination Award (“Spirit of DI”) — Washington Elementary — team manager, Alex Zaharis

Instant challenges: 100 percent score

Fifth-grade team Eisenhower Elementary — team manger, Cheri Schimming

Third-grade team — Roosevelt Elementary — team manager, Jennifer Love

Fourth-grade team Lincoln Elementary — team manager, Dawn Lamkin