Team from Hollis Brookline places third at Destination Imagination global finals
HOLLIS – The high school level Destination Imagination team, comprised of five students from Hollis and Brookline, placed third in the Global Finals competition held at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville at the end of May.
More than 8,000 students from 48 states and 30 countries participated in the competition. This is the highest finish for any team from Hollis Brookline.
“We have a strong team and have done well before, but this is truly an achievement,” said Anat Eshed, who has been the team manager for 11 years. “My daughter is graduating, so for her to have this achievement at the end of an 11-year DI career is pretty neat.”
Destination Imagination is a competition based on creative problem solving, science, technology, the arts, engineering, and, of course, teamwork. Teams are given a technical challenge and have to collaborate on how to accomplish the goal. Costumes and presentation are also part of the project.
This year’s challenge, Dig In, involved designing and building equipment that could detect hidden objects, remove them from their hiding places, and transport them across the finish line in less than eight minutes. The team chose an ocean theme, and used a robot shrimp to find and retrieve stolen pearls that had been placed inside clamshells. It took about six months for the Clam Hunters to come up with the solution, create and test all the components, write a script and pull the production together.
The team held fundraisers to finance their travel and registration fees. Prior to qualifying for Global Finals, the team competed at the regional competition in Keene and the state competition in Nashua, both held in March.
Eshed’s daughter, Noam, is a senior at Hollis Brookline High School, as is Mandy Graves, the other remaining original team member. This was the team’s sixth time qualifying for Globals, and the fifth trip for the pair, who couldn’t attend last year due to Advanced Placement tests.
“I’ve been doing DI since second grade, so I was really excited about it,” Noam said regarding the team’s accomplishments. She said one of her favorite things about the competition is watching how other teams solve the same challenge. She will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the fall, and plans on studying physics or engineering.
“This was unbelievable, a great way to end,” said Mandy about her lengthy DI career. “I like the mechanical pieces but I also like acting out the script. I like being dramatic on stage, that is where I shine. It’s all very interesting. The best part is as seniors, we got to have a graduation ceremony while we were there. We made duct tape hats and gowns.”
Noam’s younger brother, Amit, a freshman at HBHS, has been involved with DI since first grade. This year marked the first time the siblings were on the same team. While both thought it was cool to work together, Amit admitted to the difficulties posed by not being able to escape from one another if they disagreed on an issue.
A big part of DI is problem-solving, and thinking on your feet. Amit, who specializes in the technological designs, has gotten plenty of valuable experience in improvising.
“A week before regionals, the arm I had designed for the robot wouldn’t scoop and I had to redesign it,” he explained. “Yeah, it was pressure, but we knew what we needed to change and why and fixed it.”
Amit will continue on the team after Noam graduates. Based on his interests and aptitudes, he has already decided to pursue a career in biomedical engineering.
Simren Bhogal, also a freshman at HBHS, just joined DI two years ago but has already been to Global Finals twice.
“It is so impressive to see how others teams’ thought processes worked,” she said. “They have prop rooms where everything is displayed. You think you had creativity and then you see someone else’s containers.”
The team’s fifth member is Kyle Swanson, of Hollis, a freshman at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, who enjoys working on the technological components, making props and also does some acting in the skits.
“Sometimes, we work hard on the equipment and it doesn’t work,” he said. “A couple of years ago, we worked for weeks on the technology and got to a competition and it all fell apart. But, if you keep trying, you will be successful.”
For placing third, the Clam Hunters were awarded a team trophy and individual medals for each student.
In addition, Noam won a Destination Imagination Support Committee scholarship of $1,500. To apply for the scholarship, she chose the option to create a tool that would help teams solve a common problem. Her pair of dice have suggestions for how to brainstorm, communicate, or hand out responsibilities. Out of hundreds of seniors who applied, she was among the nine who were awarded a DISC scholarship.
Hollis-Brookline DI was also represented at the Global Final competition by an elementary school level team who solved the Laugh Art Loud theatrical-based challenge, and a middle school level team who solved the Going to Extremes scientific-based challenge.