Lutherville Laboratory Elementary has a lot of students to be proud of—67, to be exact.
The students formed 10 different teams and competed at Saturday’s Destination ImagiNation regional tournament, with extraordinary results.
Two teams placed a thrilling third, two more teams placed a stunning second, and yet another placed a fabulous first.
The first and the second place teams will compete at the states level on April 2, at UMBC.
Here’s a little background on Destination ImagiNation, or DI, as the kids call it. DI is an extracurricular program that fosters creativity, teamwork and problem-solving among school-aged children. Students are given a challenge that can involve many of the following: research and understanding of cultures, theater arts, science, innovation and design, construction, mathematics, modularization and experimentation.
Sounds like elementary school, right?
And yet DI is a place where kids thrive. Karen Jenkins, a kindergarten teacher at Lutherville Lab who is also a DI Appraiser (that’s DI-speak for “judge”) at the tournaments, said, “I think it is a wonderful activity that can foster the growth of problem-solving skills, cooperation, identifying your own and your teammates' strengths and weaknesses. The children can build theatrical skills, like building sets, acting, singing, writing scripts and songs and poetry. And engineering skills, like building weight-bearing structures and research skills. I could on and on.”
For Lutherville Lab’s principal Steve Buettner, the DI teams are an inspiration. “I am very impressed by the level of problem-solving and creativity that our teams displayed,” Buettner said. “No wonder they win some of the top recognition each year during DI regionals. Lutherville Lab students are simply outstanding.”
Lutherville’s DI teams have been meeting twice weekly or more after school since October to hone their skills for the March competition. The Lutherville team that won first place, the Running Riddlers, which has one student from Ridgely Middle School, competed in a challenge called “Unidentified Moving Object.”
“First they had to perform a skit,” said Jillian Bartholomew, a third-grade teacher at Lutherville Lab and the faculty liaison for DI, “and build some sort of item that was going to be able to lift items from the bottom of a pool, to the top of a six-foot tall tower, and also move them back to the bottom of the pool. They did a phenomenal job.”
Josh Ward from the Running Riddlers was happy to explain how his team engineered its equipment. “We worked for lots of months to find out how to get things from the bottom of the pole to the top, and from the top to the bottom,” he said. “Like a CD, a carriage bolt, a tuna can, lots of stuff. We used pipe connectors and two tent pole pieces with a big piece of foam to swipe things off the tower. We made something like a fishing pole with a gigantic magnet at the end to get the tuna can.”
Katie Ward, his sister and teammate, emphasized the effort it took to master the challenge. “We did a lot of work,” she said. “We worked a lot, a lot, a lot. I thought the competition was really exciting. It was really fun.”
Their mom, Pam Ward, is tickled by the accomplishment.
“I was just so pleased to see how far they came, from the first meeting to the competition,” she said. “They came a tremendous way. That was very fun.”
Another Riddler teammate, Adam Madro, said, “I really liked the part that you get to be creative and you use anything you want to make everything. And it’s a lot of fun doing everything.”
The Lutherville Lollipops and the Tropical Goddesses are the two teams that placed second. They competed in challenges called “Mythology Mission” and “Spinning a Tale.” The Lollipops, newcomers to DI this year, had to showcase their understanding of different cultures and mythology, while the Goddesses, who won first place in last year’s DI tournament, had to display their knowledge of energy cycles in the natural and physical world.
“I am amazed by the work that each group completed,” said Bartholomew. “I am proud of all the participants!”
The kids are proud of themselves.
Lily Kauffman, a Lollipop member, said, "You have to have a lot of teamwork. This was my first year in DI and I had a great time with my team. We worked hard and are excited to go on to the state competition. I can't wait until next year!"
Keira Levy, her teammate on the Lollipops, said, "It felt so good to win such a great award. It was the best day. We really felt good about the competition and can't wait for the states competition coming up soon."
Another Lollipop teammate, Madison Smith, agreed. “When we won second place, I was on top of the world!” she said.
Here’s the breakdown of our Whiz Kids!
1st place – The Running Riddlers:
- Josh and Katie Ward
- David Choi
- Adam Madro
- Henry O’Connor
2nd place – The Tropical Goddesses:
- Lexi Rinehart
- Abby Norr
- Minna Knight
- Anna Heider
- Grace Sheridan
- Katie Friert
2nd place – The Lutherville Lollipops:
- Emily Cohen
- Vanesa Brecher
- Helen Wang
- Julia Tivvis
- Lily Kauffman
- Keira Levy
- Madison Smith
3rd place teams:
- The Lighting Leopards
- The Ultimate DI Builders
Congratulations to five more Lutherville teams on their hard work:
- Lutherville Lemonheads
- Lutherville Awesome Aces
- Lutherville Eagles
- Lutherville Smiley Parrots
- Lutherville Leopards