Ames High Destination ImagiNation wins state and attends Global Finals for the second consecutive time

Junior Kristina Johnson and her teammates have a challenge: they need to adapt the picture book The Big Orange Splot into a musical with original lyrics and choreography. And although the team is only required to have one number, Kristina and her team have made an entire musical, complete with carefully orchestrated transitions. In addition, the technical aspect of the challenge requires them to create a "grand entrance or exit." For that, they’ve created a Rube Goldberg-like contraption to drop the curtain. It’s all part of the creative problem solving program DestinationImagiNation (DI). According to the DI website, " students apply the math, science, engineering, art, writing, research, reading, geography and more that they learn in classrooms to solve real problems." The competition parameters consist of a Team Challenge, for which the Ames High team created the musical, and an Instant Challenge, a problem announced on-site that teams have under ten minutes to improvise a solution. "The really great thing about DI is that there are really no limits on what you can do. There are specifications that have to be met in the [Team Challenge], but there are always a million different ways to go about solving these specifications that you can do what ever you want, basically," said DI team member junior Delaney Kolb. By winning the state competition for the second year in a row, Johnson and her teammates have again qualified for Global Finals, which will take place May 20 to 23 in Knoxville, Tenn. Over 10,000 students from 8 countries and all 50 states will compete, including approximately 60 teams for the high school division. Last year, the Ames High team placed 16th. The team members have all made sacrifices for the DI cause. On top of having to practice several times a week for several hours each, they have had competitions during spring break, prom weekend and graduation. However, even while she has put immense effort into preparing for competition, what Johnson remembers most about last year’s Global Finals was the experience of interacting with the thousands of other participants and exploring the numerous events. She recalls the pin trading, the free goodies, the elaborate opening ceremony, complete with a laser show and fireworks, and the dance parties. " You’d think nerds wouldn’t be able to have fun, but we have a blast. The last dance party that week was set up under a massive tent with a DJ and tables with tons of free pizza, root beer floats, cookies, chips, the whole works ," Johnson said. But what Johnson and her teammates will remember the most several years from now will be the experience and knowledge gained. "I’ve never been in a better environment that fosters leadership and teamwork so well as DI. I’ve learned how I can use my strengths to see the technical and engineering side of things to lead my team but also act as team player when collaborating ideas with the group," she said. A live webcast of both the opening and closing ceremonies of Global Finals will be available on the DI website at http://www.globalfinals.org/webcast.htm .