Students not only are encouraged to be creative but to support the creativity of their team members during Destination Imagination.

Students not only are encouraged to be creative but to support the creativity of their team members during Destination Imagination.

Five student teams from Smith Elementary School competed at the Destination Imagination Regional Competition with 200 other teams from central Ohio counties March 16 at Reynoldsburg High School.

One fourth-grade team from Smith placed first in the regional competition and will move on to the state tournament April 20 at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

Team members are Maria Schul, Alana Kay, Alena Clark, Jillian Darst, Lily Tope, Ainsley Tatman and Audrey Williams.

Another team from Smith placed second.

Robin Irion, guidance counselor and building coordinator for Smith, said students form teams of three to seven members, working on one team challenge and practicing instant challenges throughout the year.

An instant challenge is a timed task that students must perform during the competition. It could be anything from performing a scenario given to them on an index card to building the tallest freestanding structure they can in eight minutes.

The other challenge the team works on is prepared in advance and can be a technical, scientific, fine arts or structural project or even an improvisational performance, she said.

The teams meet weekly with a parent volunteer to prepare for the regional competition. Students in grades 1-5 can be on a team with other students from their grade level.

First- and second-grade students do not enter the actual competition, Irion said, but rather take part in a performance as part of the Rising Star portion of the event.

Irion said students who participate in Destination Imagination learn to think on their feet and to collaborate with members of their team.

The winning team has been working as a team for the past three years, and Irion believes that's why it was so successful.

"They got better working as a team as time went on," she said. "Instead of spending time disagreeing and trying to get the group to agree with how they want to do things, they started working toward a common goal."

Judges look not only at the finished product, but judge students on their creativity as well as how well they worked together, she said.

"The judges provide positive feedback to students in addition to their raw score," Irion said. "This helps them build self-esteem as well as know what to work on."

She said the winning teams at Smith have been talking about the competition to other students, and she thinks that may encourage others to take part in the competition next year.

"It's really a lot of fun," she said. "Students who participate learn valuable skills and really enjoy being a part of a team."