Saturday, April 22, 2006

Ramblings from both the mental and physical roads

I'm letting road vibrations shake themselves out of me as I unwind from our trip to Destination ImagiNation. I have to admit that this is one of the coolest competitions I have seen in a long time. There are a number of challenges that teams from the elementary, middle and high school levels can pick. These involve both technical and artistic endeavors, and students spend months preparing for an eight minute presentation. They are also given instant challenges that they have to meet on the spot. At a rehearsal around last Christmas, their instant challenge required them to act out "8 maids a-milking" from the Christmas carol. One of their male team members played the cow and mooed loudly, funnily and yes, disturbingly, through their challenge. Ironically, one of the corporate sponsors that helped finance this region's teams to the state finals turned out to be a dairy.

Over 100 teams from across the state met at David Lipscomb University in Nashville. Counting the parents in attendance, I'm estimating about 1500 people were involved. My daughter's team placed second in their challenge and will be progressing to the global competition next month. They had to prepare a skit set in another country containing factual information about the country. They had to incorporate some surprise action that caused an unusual event. (By this time a bovine sub-theme had developed, and one of the womanchild's team's props was an "exploding" cow.) They had to have music, and every bit of work from the ideas to the execution had to be done by the students and verified by an adult team manager. If something looked like somebody's engineer dad had chipped in a bit, it was reviewed and questioned in detail. Some of the challenges I saw included an eight foot tall "storybook" with turnable, lighted pages, and gargoyles that came to life. Another challenge had Lego robots with laser technology. I was seriously impressed.

Problem solving, creativity and technical skill development are the primary emphases of Destination:ImagiNation, and it's all handled in such a fun way that the kids love it. At least four other teams from our town will be heading to globals, and I couldn't be prouder.

It felt so good to be back on a college campus again today, and Lipscomb has such a pretty campus. I stopped one student to ask directions to one of the challenge sites and was told to go to the large brick building with the columns in the middle of the campus. The only problem was that almost every building was large, brick and had columns, and finding the one in the middle meant exploring the entire campus. During one of the challenges that wasn't open to the public, I took some time to sit in one of several bench type swings that dot the campus and do some writing. It just felt right and added more fuel to the desire to go back to graduate school.

I'm tired now. I walked more than I'm used to today and will pay for it tomorrow when the fundraising to get to the global competition begins. I've done enough volunteer and professional work for non-profits that asking people for money is kind of old hat to me. I haven't done it in awhile though, so I'm going to be rusty. I'm not going to mind though. This is a great opportunity for these kids. Graduating seniors have scholarship opportunities because of their participation. More than that, they learn in an environment where they push themselves. A parent can't ask for more than that.


Blogger Kelly said...

We have competed in Odyssey of the Mind for 3 years now (which sounds like exactly the same program! lots of work for 8 minutes - lol) and I would recommend it to anybody. It is amazing watching those minds at work. It's hard to sit back and let them do it all, so hard not to jump in. But they always come up with more creative stuff that us grown ups ever could!

April 23, 2006 10:13 AM  
Blogger Vicky said...

What a wonderful experience for both you and the womanchild, Cynthia. It is heartening to see that there are still enrichment and challenge and creativity to be had in these grim days of "No Child Left Behind." (Don't get me started!)

Happy for you both - and good luck with the fundraising!

Love, Vicky

April 23, 2006 12:42 PM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

Just when you start to despair that anything new, different, or exciting is happening on odays scholastic landscape.... this looks great.

And what's this about graduate school? :-]

April 23, 2006 8:54 PM  

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