Destination Imagination

Math Consultant Jeff Harvey appraises one of the team's pinball machines

Destination Imagination (DI) is an international competition which challenges elementary and middle school students’ scientific, technical, and fine arts skills. The regional competition took place at Symmes Junior High/D’Arcy McGee High School Friday, March 22nd.  The Western Québec School Board has been proudly participating in DI for the last 13 years, and the organizers for the event, Educational Technology Consultant Lisa Diner and Consultant in Complementary Services, Steve Greig offered two main challenges to the participating students: a technical challenge for middle school teams and a scientific challenge for the elementary school teams.

In addition to the two main categories, there were several other awards earned by students, such as the DaVinci Award, presented to a team for having a unique approach to a solution, for risk-taking, and/or for outstanding creativity.  There was also the Renaissance Award, for outstanding skills in the areas of design, engineering, execution, or performance.  Finally, there was the Spirit of Discovery and Imagination Award, given to a team in recognition of those who act as exceptional role models in the areas of spirit, teamwork, sportsmanship, volunteerism, diversity, equity, and/or inclusion.

A Silly Hat Award was also presented to the appraiser with the silliest hat.  As an established tradition, the DI appraisers, who evaluate the execution of tasks, have been encouraged to wear a silly hat on the day of the event to make competitors feel more at ease.      

There was also the James Shea Building DI Award given to a devoted team manager in honour of the school board’s late chairperson, who was an enthusiastic supporter of the event. 

Destination Imagination offers a fun, hands-on educational experience that is key in engaging students and empowering them to succeed in today’s dynamic workforce, with technology embedded in nearly every industry. DI also directly links to the Federal Government’s Skills for Success which identifies the skills practiced in DI as essential for jobs of the future. These include creativity & innovation, problem solving, collaboration, adaptability, and communication, all of which are part of the DI Program.

Ms. Diner and Mr. Greig began planning for the event back in August, exploring the challenges and establishing the timelines teachers and students would follow. They also reached out to schools asking for teacher volunteers to be team managers, and in September/October, they began the team manager training. Once complete, the schools began recruiting students and preparing for the tournament. 

In the Fall, Steve Greig and Alan Earwaker ran the overnight Destination Leadership (DL) camp for grade 10-11 students who would be a part of facilitating the DI day. After the leadership camp, Lisa and Steve planned for the tournament, reaching out to appraisers, designing t-shirts and pins for DI, and offering training to the appraisers, to name a few of the tasks. The last three weeks before the tournament, the team worked full-time on preparations for the tournament itself. There were also two challenge masters who helped with the training:  Math/Science Consultant Jeff Harvey for the technical challenge, and the board’s Archivist Tracey Olson for the Instant Challenge.

This year, there were eleven schools participating, and a total of 17 teams comprised of 4-5 students. In attendance were teams from Onslow Elementary, Poltimore Elementary, Greater Gatineau Elementary, Chelsea Elementary, Namur School, Lord Aylmer Elementary, Wakefield Elementary, Dr. Wilbert Keon School, Eardley Elementary, Hadley Junior High, and Symmes Junior High. The special guest for DI this year was the Honourable Greg Fergus, Speaker of the House of Commons. Western Québec School Board Chairperson, Wayne Daly, was also there as an appraiser, noting he was grateful to see Destination Imagination really picking up speed once again after the pandemic lockdowns had slowed it down.

The Western Québec School Board extends its congratulations to all participating teams for their ingenuity and effort, as well as to their dedicated team managers who worked diligently to support their teams throughout the school year, (giving up many lunch hours to do so). We would also like to extend a huge thank you to Lisa Diner, Steve Greig, and Alan Earwaker for organizing and facilitating both Destination Leadership and Destination Imagination.

Special thank you to Lisa Diner for co-writing this article and providing all the necessary information.

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