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Destination ImagiNation students sweep regional tournament

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” — Dr. Seuss.

All six Pagosa Destination ImagiNation teams brought home first-place trophies from the Southwest Colorado Regional DI Tournament last Saturday. At the end of the day, appraisers rewarded two deserving Pagosa teams with DaVinci Awards for Extreme Creativity.

Forty-eight DI teams gathered from as far away as Leadville, Ouray, Dolores and Cortez. Durango public and charter schools came out in force. This year, Pagosa Springs schools fielded two teams from the high school, three teams from the middle school and one team from the elementary school. Regional teams competed in Central Challenges, as well as age-appropriate Instant Challenges.

The elementary level Smartalics, the middle school DIdeas and the secondary Imaginators7 solved the science challenge, “The Solar Stage.” Their solutions unfolded in a dark room with only student-created theatrical lighting illuminating their performances. Each story, authored and acted entirely by students, included a solar energy prototype, imagined and built by the team.

The Smartalics explained passive solar energy and active photovoltaics in their performance, set in the green of the Amazon rainforest. These creative kids flew an airplane to the highlands of Peru, then transformed the plane into a boat to float down the river, using solar energy along the way.

The DIdeas imagined a cure for melanoma that uses the sun’s own concentrated light rays. The bright, sparkling white of frozen Alaska was the setting for their solution. The dangers of ultraviolet light inspired their solar prototype and were woven throughout their story’s script.

The high school Imaginators7 traveled to a fantasy future in which coastal Los Angeles survives under a dome on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The sun’s light rays won’t reach the domed city, so their imagined prototype captures the sound waves of solar energy traveling to earth and sends it to the ocean floor.

Spazztastic, also from the high school, solved the improvisation “News to Me” challenge. Their scenery and props were their own team members in this mash-up of news stories with a spontaneous one-minute glitch, a change that required the team to rethink their solution and redesign the conclusion in the moment.

The middle level DIeinsteins earned a DaVinci Award for their Extreme Creativity. They chose this year’s structure challenge, “Hold It!” The team imagined and built a wood and glue structure and a golf ball delivery device, then embedded those creations into the plot of their original story. The balsa wood structure weighed less than 50 grams, but held 385 pounds of weight. At the end of their eight-minute performance, eight golf balls had been delivered inside the structure.

The DINerds spoke Japanese, ate Irish soda bread, and wowed appraisers and audience members by performing their original movie trailer, “The Promise.” This season’s fine arts challenge, “Coming Attractions,” was the choice of the Nerds, who received a DaVinci Award for their out-of-the-box creativity and attention to detail.

All six Pagosa DI teams will compete in the Colorado State Tournament on Saturday, April 14, at the downtown Denver Auraria Campus. The public is invited. Some local teams may qualify for DI’s Global Finals, held at the University of Tennessee Knoxville each Memorial Day weekend. DI teams from around the world compete in the Global Finals.

Our Destination ImagiNation students enjoy generous support from Archuleta School District through our state tournament travel. If a team qualifies to move up to Globals, students will seek financial support from individuals and companies around Pagosa and the Four Corners.

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