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Creativity + Skills = DI

Queen of Peace student Alec Erickson performs a magic trick for Lydia Saletel as part of their Destination Imagination skit during the Regional DI competition in Proctor on Saturday.1 / 8
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A total of 19 Carlton County teams from Cloquet, Esko, Queen of Peace and Moose Lake competed in the Destination Imagination (DI) regional competition in Proctor Saturday — and while not all are advancing to the state competition, all of them did their best to dazzle their judges with dramatic, artistic and technical skills.

It can be difficult to describe Destination Imagination (DI) to the uninitiated.

Some will tell you the project-based academic challenges are designed to teach kids how to think, not what to think. Teachers often talk about the way DI blends STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education with problem solving and social entrepreneurship. Others — mostly students — will tell you it's just plain fun.

The official mission of DI is "to develop opportunities that inspire the global communities of learners to utilize diverse approaches in applying 21st century skills and creativity."

That 21st century technology includes duct tape, as one Cloquet Middle School team demonstrated last week.

Despite breaking their water wheel a couple days before the competition — and using duct tape for a temporary fix — plus losing two wheels for their back drop, the Uncolorful Rainbow team overcame its challenges to take first place in the fine arts category for middle school students, with their play describing how the vengeful god Poseidon erased the color blue from the world and how that affected human life for centuries to come.

There were seven different categories teams could choose to compete in:

• Show & Tech (technical)

• Top Secret (scientific)

• In It Together (engineering)

• Ready, Willing and Fable (service learning)

• Vanished (fine arts)

• 3-peat (improv)

• Save the Day (rising stars)

Different categories had different requirements for participants and zany but strict judges gave no quarter if teams didn't fulfill all the "points of interest" outlined for each category. The lists can get pretty complicated.

For example, the Show and Tech category required teams to present a show that includes an opening act and headlining act, design and build a stage on which the acts will take place and that will move a team member from one location to another, and enhance each act with a technical effect to amaze the audience. They also had to — this was a requirement in every category except Improv — create and present two Team Choice Elements that show off the team's interest, skills, areas of strength and talents.

Each team also had to participate in an Instant Challenge at some point during the day, an effort which was judged as well and added to their scores. Team members must think on their feet by applying appropriate skills to produce a solution to a problem that they don't learn until the time of the challenge in a period of five to 10 minutes.

The state competition is set for April 22 in Champlin, Minn.