The students have been working since last fall on the Team Challenge portion of the competition, choosing from among seven technical, scientific, fine arts, structural engineering and community service projects created by the non-profit organization, Destination Imagination, based in Cherry Hill, N.J. The 200 teams competing Saturday have already won a top spot in one of California’s seven regional competitions held in February. Local schools represented include Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, Flora Vista Elementary School in Encinitas, and multiple schools from Cardiff and Encinitas.
With an aim to build students’ creativity, problem-solving and teamwork skills, the Destination Imagination program started in 1999 and is designed to align with national educational standards in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as common-core standards in English language arts. Each year about 125,000 children participate in the tournaments organized with the help of some 40,000 volunteers worldwide.
Teams with names like “The Mega Magnetic Mishaps,” “NFL: Nerds for Life,” and “The Dancing Neurons” will be at the state tournament at Cuyamaca College, vying for a spot to compete in the global finals May 22-25 in Knoxville, Tenn. Teams finishing in the top three of their division go on to this final competition, expected to draw more than 1,000 teams from 20 countries.
The competitions consist of students presenting their Team Challenge solutions and also, taking part in Instant Challenges, in which they’re faced with solving a problem on the spot.
The event takes place at various sites on the Cuyamaca College campus, including the science and mathematics center and the communications arts center. The competition begins at 7 a.m. and concludes with an awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m. inside the gym.