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Roseville students qualify for state Destination Imagination tourney

Both of Junction Elementary School’s teams place in regional tournament
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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Four of the members of Junction Elementary School’s fourth-grade Destination Imagination team found the results of the regional tournament to be a welcome surprise.

But not member Colin Wong. He was confident all along.

“I had a feeling we would win,” Colin, 10, said.

And they did. The fourth-grade team took first place in their category at the event, held March 2 at Olympus Junior High School in Granite Bay. The team, DI Flies, now qualifies for the state final on March 23 in San Diego.

“We were jumping up and down,” Aneesha Sandhu, 10, said of winning.

Her mom, Gurinder Sandhu, started the all-volunteer Destination Imagination program at Junction Elementary School in Roseville in 2010. Students work in teams of up to seven members to solve a long-term challenge, which is judged at a regional tournament.

A team chooses from seven challenges, and the fourth graders selected “In the Zone.” They were tasked with building at least three small vehicles that could travel a specific distance to earn various points.

Each vehicle had to be made out of a different propulsion system. The team built a rubber band car (wind-up propulsion), tank car (electric motor) and gravity car with ramp (gravity propulsion). They also created, wrote and performed an original play based around the dangers vehicles experience, according to Sandhu.

During the regional tournament, Adam Bowen, 10, launched the gravity car, which landed in the 10-point zone. Colin launched the tank car, which got five points. Eliana Baissa, 9, launched the rubber-band car, which got close to the 10-point zone, but ended up in zero.

“But it’s better than losing points,” Eliana said.

Students lost points if their car landed in the “danger zone.” Eliana said she enjoys being part of Destination Imagination.

“You learn a lot of things and it’s fun to try new experiences,” she said. “When you go to the tournament, it’s a mix of nervousness, fun and everything that’s good.”

This marked the first time Junction has two teams invited to the state tournament. The second team comprises six second and third graders, who call themselves Team Curiosity, after the Mars rover.

This is the second year Alyssa Schmidt, 8, has been in Destination Imagination but the first year for her teammates, including Abby McWherter, 9.

“It sounded interesting,” said Abby. Plus, she’s best friends with Alyssa.

For Team Curiosity’s challenge, they had to make an object that weighs 175 grams or less and uses a minimum of three materials from a list: They selected cardboard, bamboo, gorilla glue, tin foil and duct tape.

Their object — a box — weighed in at 172 grams. Their object was also tested to see how much weight it could carry. Team Curiosity’s creation held 295 pounds.

Team Co-Manager Rebecca Schmidt said the students attended a workshop before the tournament where they learned skills such as woodworking, sewing, writing and how to build a bridge and make it stronger using crossbars. They incorporated some of these lessons into their creation.

The team also made scenery backdrops and Abby performed gymnastics as part of the competition.

“DI teaches problem solving, critical thinking (and) team work and fosters creativity,” said Sandhu, the fourth-grade team manager. “I have seen students grow in so many different areas from being a part of DI. They get to work on their public speaking skills, learn how to delegate tasks and handle time management. All this skill can enhance their success at school and beyond.”