A dozen elementary students huddled in groups over a masking-tape grid on the carpet of a classroom floor, moving index cards labeled with numbers into the squares.
The Lincoln Elementary School Destination Imagination teams had a list of criteria the grid had to meet, and quickly realized that it was impossible to complete all of them — especially in the five minutes they were allotted.
"The overall mission of Destination Imagination is to give kids the opportunity to think outside the box and learn to work on a team," said coach Laura Miller, who teaches third grade at Lincoln Elementary School.
"I just started DI this year," said DI team member Abigail Blount. "I came to DI because last year, when Mrs. Miller told me about it, it sounded like it would be really fun."
Students who have participated in Destination Imagination say the extracurricular activity is both educational and entertaining.
"I've learned that, if you have a team, take advantage of that," said DI team member Eve Hanschu. "Make sure you don't leave anybody out because who knows, they might have something good."
"You can't leave your teammate out, because if you leave your teammate out, you're not a team," said DI team member Alivia Stucky.
DI teams compete at the state level in the spring. Last year, two Lincoln Elementary DI teams qualified for Global Finals, but did not have the time to raise the funds for traveling expenses.
This year, the school will host a Family Fun Night from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at Lincoln Elementary School, 900 N. Ash. St. The fun night will feature bingo, hot dogs, drinks, prizes and dancing. To raise funds for Destination Imagination, participants can buy strips of duct tape to stick a person of their choice to the cafeteria wall. Cody Rierson, Angie McDonald, Jenny Wiens, Andrea Hundley, Miller and Pister have all volunteered for the activity.
The students have weekly practices, in which they complete mini challenges that require engineering, problem solving, performance and creative thinking.
"It's always different — sometimes it's thinking, sometimes it's building," Miller said.
The mini challenges that afternoon included using a few supplies — string, paper plates, straws, paper clips and an envelope — to move an egg across a desk without touching it, suspend an egg on a bridge built between two chairs and build the tallest tower possible that would hold the egg.
"I like how you see different designs, even though it's the same concept," said DI coach Kristine Pister.
For the final mini challenge, the DI teams had to come up with a non-verbal presentation about the three previous challenges.
"It's a lot of quick thinking, teamwork and communication," Miller said.
Miller said the most rewarding thing she has seen come from DI is watching students go from quitting challenges in frustration to successfully sticking them out. One of the group's mantras is "failure leads to success."
"I've learned a lot of teamwork and that you don't complete all the stuff you want to," said DI team member Simon Blake.
For more information about Destination Imagination, visit https://www.destinationimagination.org.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.