HUDSON – Two local teams took home first-place trophies after competing in the Ohio Regional 15 Destination Imagination weekend last month, but will miss out on state level competition due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Destination Imagination offers STEM/STEAM based concept challenges that require hands-on problem solving, critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills. 

The first-place finishes would have allowed the two teams to compete at the state level, which had been was scheduled for April 4 but was canceled. However, this summer there will be global competition that will take place online.

The fixeDIt team, which included four seventh-graders, competed in the technical challenge, said Hiral Rao, one of the coaches. The challenge involved designing and building an invention, creating an invention artifact and designing and building impact sceneries using various technical methods like acoustic, mechanical, electrical and chemical.

"This challenge was very difficult," said Aanya Patel, 12. "We had to work inside and outside of the meetings. We had to figure everything out ourselves because adults and kids that were not in our team, could not interfere. If someone interfered, we would get disqualified as per Destination Imagination rules. This is another part of D.I that makes it so fun and challenging."

"We had to have three technical methods to show before and after," Aanya added. "It was pretty difficult. We had to learn how to work together, this was a new team this year. We actually changed our solution multiple times."

Aanya said their project took much of the school year to work on. The issue they tackled was aimed at "people who can’t focus or pay attention at work or school."

She said she couldn’t go into what solution her team came up with since the contest is ongoing.

The other team members included Genevieve Baylor, Lily Larsen and Tori Slotter.

The justDoIt! Team competed in the engineering challenge that involved designing and building a bridge using only playing cards and duct tape, said Maanav Patel, a fourth-grade student at East Woods.

"We were supposed to build a card bridge using playing cards and duct tape that stands at least four feet," said Maanav, 10. "Then we were supposed to pass payloads. We tested the payload across the bridge, we used a couple of hot wheels cars."

The bridge also had to cross over a one-foot barrier, Maanav added.

The bridge challenge "was super difficult," said Rao.

The other justDoIt! team members included sixth graders Christian Renna and Sophia Neil from Hudson Middle School, sixth grader Maya Vaden from Hudson Montessori School, and fourth graders Maanav Patel and John Neil.

Karl and Leah Vaden, longtime Destination Imagination coaches, said they were proud of their team.

"We knew this challenge would be difficult, but it ended up being the hardest challenge we’ve ever seen," said Karl Varden of the bridge competition. "Even one of the senior level coaches said their team had trouble keeping the bridge together. Our kids rose to the challenge, didn’t give up, and learned so much from what at times seemed like an impossible task. We were holding our breath for them to get one payload across. They did three. We couldn’t be prouder."

Chirag Patel, another coach, said that being a Destination Imagination coach "requires immense commitment of time and effort."

"Patience is imperative when you see the kids fail again and again while resisting to give them solutions," Patel said. "However, the year always turns out to be an incredible learning journey for kids and for us. Seeing the kids grow, work hard, solve problems with critical thinking, research and creativity is so rewarding."

Aanya said she liked participating in Destination Imagination because she enjoyed coming up with creative ways to solve problems.

"You get to think outside of the box, you can get creative," she said. "A lot of technical but other types of challenges. It helps you work your brain, helps you be creative. At the end, if you win an award, you feel really good."

Maanav said he enjoyed making new friends and working with his team.

"When we go and perform, I like seeing the faces of the crowd," Maanav said. "I also like seeing making new friends, working with teammates."

This year’s global competition

Because of the pandemic, the global competition scheduled for May 20 through 23 in Kansas City, Mo., was canceled.

In its place, a virtual competition open to all Destination Imagination teams will take place online.

"This includes any teams that did not get a chance to compete in their Regional or Affiliate Tournaments, as well as teams that have already competed at a tournament, regardless of the results of that tournament," said Michele Tuck-Ponder, executive director of Destination Imagination, Inc. "Since this is a brand new experience for all of us, we want all teams to have the chance to showcase their work."

For Global Finals 2020, teams can participate in several different Challenge Experiences:

• Team Challenge Showcase for the team’s solution to any of the Team Challenges from the 2019-20 Challenge season

• All-new Virtual Team Challenge

• Three all-new Virtual Instant Challenges

The cost to participate in the Global Finals 2020 Virtual Tournament is $199.

Registration begins April 15 and June 15 is the deadline to submit a Team Challenge Showcase and Virtual Team Challenge.

From June 16 through 29, a new Virtual Instant Challenge per competition level will be released each week.

The Virtual Closing Celebration is scheduled for July 16.

For details, visit https://www.globalfinals.org/ online.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, ahelms@recordpub.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC