By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Three Northborough Destination Imagination (DI) teams earned top placements at the Massachusetts State tournament held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute April 2. They are now heading to the global level competitions to be held May 24-27 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, which will include competitors from 48 states and 30 countries.
DI is a volunteer-led, educational nonprofit organization utilizing a fun, hands-on system of learning that fosters students’ creativity, courage and curiosity through open-ended academic challenges in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), fine arts and service learning.
Team members work together to develop a solution to a challenge, present at tournaments, and compete with others. Students learn and experience the creative process from imagination to innovation and develop life skills including teamwork, respect for others, communication, perseverance and self-confidence.
Third- and fourth-grade team Believe in the Marshmallow Dogs includes Katie McCabe, Paneet Kandola, Bridget Alfonso and Niko Conway. Their service-based project brings awareness to the food cost of sheltered animals. They performed a skit about fairy veterinarians who founded the Mystical Toucan Society and were on a mission to save an injured rainbow zebra with a magical cat. Their props included a wired X-ray machine complete with sound effects and a papier-mâché sculpture of the rainbow zebra.
Algonquin Regional High School juniors Genevieve Cox and Katherine Dawson are assistant managers of the team, which was formed in September 2016 and have logged in 150 meeting and work hours.
“We are only the second elementary team in Northborough to go to globals,” said Dawson. “We are super excited for the girls to have made it this far. We know the girls put so much time, effort and interest in this challenge.”
Although Dawson and Cox are not new to DI, they are new to the leadership role as assistant managers for a team.
“The managers are mentors and are only able to support the kids and teach general skills,” said Cox. “All project ideas must be generated and executed by the kids. It was very difficult for us to step back and let the girls figure out issues.”
Team Diabolical Diamond-encrusted Divergent Dinosaurs with a Dilemma members Ashlyn Moore, Adrien Moulin, Danielle Spadafora, Nathan Spadafora and Lilia Trevino selected a scientific challenge to create gadgets and decoders to help decipher messages to solve a top-secret mission. Their mission was to rescue a Pegasus and a dragon who have been stolen from a secret government menagerie of mystical creatures by evil scientists. A secret message given to them during their performance had to be decoded using a spy gadget of their own design to help the animals escape. The team created all of their props and scenery.
Eighth-graders Stevie Bafaro, Lucy Barnard, Clara Moulin, Emma Polhemus and Piece Sullivan competed as The Fearless Legion of Romping Wood Stoves. Their skit was based on the 1969 moon landing and utilized technical effects such as a rocket landing using pulleys and a drill, creating their own light bulb and making the president spin on a custom made stage.
Competing at the Global tournament has a cost and fundraising efforts to help offset registration costs are under way for Believe in the Marshmallow Dogs and Diabolical Diamond-encrusted Divergent Dinosaurs with a Dilemma. Checks to support these teams can be made payable to MMS PTO, 20 Warren Drive, Northborough, MA 01532. Please make a notation of the team you wish to support. In addition, a GoFundMe page has been set up at www.gofundme.com/NorthboroughDIMarshmallow-Dogs.