MIDLOTHIAN — In the largest celebration of creativity in the world, Destination Imagination — a hands-on system of learning program — has encouraged students from all over the world to think creatively through exciting academic challenges.

And a group of Midlothian elementary students is now among the best of the best.

“It's a program of learning that fosters students’ creativity, courage, and curiosity,” explained Chuck Cadle, CEO of Destination Imagination, in a press release. “Collaborative problem solving, risk taking, project management and thinking on your feet are just a few of the important skills learned in our program."

Completing a succession of regional and state academic tournaments in creativity, teamwork, and innovation, the Midlothian LaRue Miller Elementary team, DI-nomyte DINOS, have earned the right to compete in this year’s Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee, May 24-27.

"The DINOS have worked so hard for this,” expressed Casey Nelson, team manager of the DI-nomyte DINOS.

Each year, Destination Imagination competitions begin with a regional tournament, where team solutions are assessed by a panel of trained appraisers, ranging from educators to artists and engineers.

Each team solution is scored on a variety of elements, including originality, workmanship, presentation and teamwork. Teams with the highest scores advance to the Affiliate Tournaments. The top-tiered teams from that round then advance to the Global Finals.

“They set goals in the beginning and have surpassed every single one. From the coin drive that raised nearly $2,000 for water filter systems in rural Bolivia to holding project briefings and performing for multiple venues, this project has had a huge impact on the team, our community and our world,” Nelson articulated.

The shining DINO third-grade team consists of Caden Haught, Ada Ballard, Sophie Tollefsbol, Kaleigh Chase, and Silas Moss, competing against 8,000 other students with more than 1,400 teams from across the globe.

“They have overcome their fears, learned to collaborate, and have truly made everyone in our community proud,” stated Kim Moss, team manager.

Competing with other teams in the “Project Outreach, Service Learning Challenge: Ready, Willing, and Fable,” one of seven, open-ended challenges, the students were required to apply science, technology, engineering, and math skills.

In addition, the contestants are also expected to use their talents of improvisation, theater arts, writing, project management, communication, innovation, teamwork, community service and social entrepreneurship skills.

As the finals near and the team of five prepare, Sophie Tollefsbol, a member of the DI-nomyte DINOS team, is not only looking forward to competing in Tennessee with her teammates but is also proud of what they’ve already accomplished.

"The best part of Destination Imagination this year was saving lives and learning that with teamwork, we can do anything," she said.

For more information about the Global DI Finals, visit globalfinals.org.


Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer