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It was a great start for the first Little Elm ISD team to compete at Destination Imagination Global Finals. Power of 7 finished in the top half, tying for 21st place out of 55 teams from around the world. "The place ahead of us was less than one point away from our score meaning that the scores were so close in some cases it came down to decimals," said Power of 7 coach, Eric Herrington. Power of 7 team members includes six fifth-grade students and one fourth-grade student, Santiago Grindstaff (5th), Jackson Morales (5th), Ava Mueller (5th), Lily Duke (5th), Lexis Jones (4th), DJ Taiwo (5th), and Colin Herrington (5th).
From the Beginning
The journey began nearly seven months ago. Power of 7, one of 21 Little Elm ISD Destination Imagination teams, began preparing for the regional competition held at RL Turner High School. Advancing to the next level is always the goal, but this Chavez team advanced to state. They were the first team at Little Elm ISD to go this far. They competed in Treasure!, an improvisational challenge, that included a journey, setbacks, and off-the-cuff improvisation while portraying historical explorers.
The team's continued success proved they were unstoppable. They headed to the state competition in Mansfield holding nothing back. Once again, the team brought back the trophy and secured 3rd place and received the highest score for the instant challenge. Instant Challenge is an open-ended STEM- (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) based challenge where students perform a construction task using only the materials provided within a certain time limit.
Next up, Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee
Eric Herrington, the team's coach, kept working with the students twice a week, sometimes even three times a week up until it was time to make the long trip to Tennessee. They practiced instant challenges, brushed up on their research on world explorers, and created mock improvisational sketches to prepare for anything they may face at Global competition.
"The Power of 7 always had a growth mindset and a determination to complete practice challenges in practice week in and week out," said Herrington. "The Power of 7 worked collaboratively and strategically in an intense, pressure-filled time frame taking on full ownership of their individual roles."
Global Finals is held in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee campus. More than 1,400 of the top-scoring DI teams from across 45 states and 16 countries come to compete every year. It is estimated that 17,000 people attended the event. It was evident during the awestruck opening ceremonies where each state and country were introduced to everyone in attendance at the Thompson-Boling Arena at the University of Tennessee.
Jackie Jackson, gifted and talented specialist for Little Elm ISD, is also the coordinator for Destination Imagination. Planning for Globals was a new experience for her and her team. They figured out room and board, travel, and coordinated with the parents who could make the trip with the team. Jackson, and gifted and talented specialists, Roxanne Clark and TJ Parks, attended every event and cheered on the Chavez team while also assuring it was a great experience for the students.
But the big thing to do at Global Finals was pin trading and meeting new people. Lexis Jones, the only 4th grader on the team, said that was one of her favorite things to do on the trip. "I met a lot of people from different countries. I traded pins with them and with other kids from different states. I saw and traded a lot of cool pins," said Jones.
(Left to Right: Colin Herrington, Lexis Jones, DJ Taiwo, Santi Grindstaff, Ava Mueller, Jackson Morales, Lily Duke)
Lily Duke, a fifth grader, celebrated a birthday while at Globals. Her teammates made it their mission to stop as many teams, from as many countries, to sing her happy birthday. DJ Taiwo, fifth grader, made a point to meet as many people as he possibly could during this once in a lifetime opportunity.
When the team was not at the pool or having a picnic lunch at World Fair Park, they spent time at the Innovation Expo to experience hands-on learning, from building the tallest wooden-block tower, playing virtual games, flying drones, and participating in space camp activities.
On Thursday, the team faced their first competition, instant challenge. Then on Friday, Power of 7, took to the stage for their team challenge, Treasure!, the improvisational challenge.
The team was able to enjoy the rest of the day by attending a costume ball where students showed off their creativity with their duct-taped, hand-made costumes!
Lexis Jones in her duct-tape costume.
Ava Mueller and Lily Duke enjoying the costume ball at the Thompson-Boling Arena.