First Baptist ImagiNation team headed to state

Published 9:22 pm Monday, March 15, 2010

It might look like a bucket with a silver dryer hose sticking out of it — but to a group of students, it’s a super-sucking elephant.

First Baptist Elementary School’s Destination ImagiNation team, composed of seven third- and fourth-graders, assembled a contraption, which the students say looks like an elephant, that won a Feb. 27 regional Destination ImagiNation competition. Their next stop is the Destination ImagiNation state tournament on March 27.

“It has given the children such a sense of accomplishment,” said Kim Teixeira, leader of the group. “They want to sell it on eBay now. They’re very proud of their contraption. It’s something they have done and created on their own.”

Destination ImagiNation is a non-profit organization that provides educational programs for students to exercise creativity, teamwork and problem solving skills. Every year, 100,000 students from 30 different countries participate in regional, state and national tournaments.

“There are usually a few different challenges the students can choose from,” Teixeira said. “The students chose to do ‘DIrect DIposit.’ It involves engineering, innovative design, experimentation and some theatrical communication elements.”

The challenge for the students was to design a machine to deliver objects over a 6-foot wall, without knowing their point of delivery.

Because the project was entirely the students’ idea and making, with Teixeira’s supervision and support, the process was trial and error and — eventually — success.

“It’s all kid-generated,” Teixeira said. “We can help them if they have an idea, but we can’t give them ideas. It helps them think critically about things.”

The students’ first idea was using a catapult, which they constructed but realized it wasn’t accurate.

Eventually, “the result was a big elephant on a cart,” Teixeira said. “They put a dryer hose in a bucket and used a leaf blower to blow the balls through.”

As part of the challenge, a few girls on the team also worked to write a skit to relate to the machinery.

“One of the little girls who helped with the drama part is very shy but very bright,” Teixeira said. “But she’s really come out of her shell because she’s had to act. When they presented, they were in a huge, full auditorium and really had to make their voices travel.”

Teixiera said she’s also seen drastic improvements in their confidence, critical thinking, creative thinking, communication and teamwork.

“They’ve really learned to talk to each other respectfully,” Teixeira said.

When the students first started, Teixeira said, they communicated like children their age are expected to — often interrupting one another and thinking their ideas were the best. But now “they listen to each other’s ideas and have learned to use one another’s strengths and delegate responsibilities accordingly.”

Their hard work and innovation have paid off, Teixiera said.

“We are elated,” Teixeira said. “The kids are so excited. I think because it’s our first time ever doing this and we went in without a clue. So, the fact that we won regionals … The kids are off the wall excited.”