Aurora -- After claiming honors for creativity, teamwork and problem-solving in local, regional and state tournaments, an Aurora High School team has qualified to compete at the Destination ImagiNation Global Finals.

Team members Connor Bowen, Justin Meyer, Nick Natko, Andrew Oulton and John Wallette earned the right to go to Knoxville, Tenn. from May 21-24 by taking first place at the recent state tournament.

The boys will compete in the scientific challenge category "Going to Extremes," one of seven challenges that require members to apply science, technology, engineering and math, in addition to improvisation, theater arts, writing, project management, communication, innovation, teamwork and community service.

"The program is unique because no one, including the team manager, is allowed to provide ideas or help as the team creates its solution to the challenge," said team manager Debby Oulton. "This gives the team excellent experiences in developing teamwork, creativity and problem-solving skills."

"We chose the Earth as our extreme environment, and used a lot of science, history, statistics and humor to describe how our character attempts to survive over 200 years, including World War I, band camp and a polluted future with Canada as the last somewhat clean location on Earth," said team member Wallette.

Three other teams from Aurora schools competed in the recent state tournament.

TEAMS AT the elementary school level participated in the "Dig In" and "Pandemonium" challenges, while another high school team participated in "The Tension Builds." The state tourney took place in Reynoldsburg, a suburb of Columbus.

Destination ImagiNation has had a positive impact on more than 1.5 million young people and adults. This year, another 100,000 have competed in tournaments nationwide and in 30 countries to earn a spot at the Global Finals.

Aurora High's contingent is among more than 8,000 students representing more than 1,250 teams that advanced. The competition will be at the University of Tennessee.

"The DI program allows students from kindergarten to college to learn and experience the creative process," said Chuck Cadle, CEO of DI. "Qualitative reasoning, problem-solving, risk taking, collaboration, presentations and thinking on your feet are some important skills learned."

This year's Global Finals Innovation Expo will house exhibits from NASA, 3M, National Geographic, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Laser Pegs, Einstein in a Box and other innovativecompanies.

Participants will have the opportunity to take a journey through a simulated rainforest and learn about its impact on the planet's ecosystem through the 3M-sponsored "Explore the Uncharted" exhibit. DI will present its Riosorgimento Award to the Mayo Clinic for its contributions in the fields of science and medicine.