New destinations: Alvord High School Destination Imagination team performing at Globals

Published Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Tops in Texas

TOPS IN TEXAS – The members of the Alvord High School Destination Imagination technical team that advanced to the Global Finals includes, from left, teacher Sheryl Townsend, Angelina Townsend, Cason Rangel, Landon Bickers, Jared Shea, Tanner Petree and Cydney Bailey. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Alvord High School is making history this week. For the first time, a Destination Imagination team from the school is competing at the Global Finals.

This year, two teams from the school advanced to the state finals for the first time: the engineering team and the technical team. The technical team advanced to the global competition where Alvord will compete against teams from schools of all sizes from around the world.

The journey began back in September when the team got its challenge, which included the following instructions:

  • Design and build a device to navigate a tournament-provided maze.
  • Design and build a prop that transforms in the maze.
  • Design and build a way to remove an object from the maze.
  • Create and present a story about a journey through the maze.
  • Create and present two Team Choice Elements that show off the team’s interests, skills, areas of strength and talents.

Tackling the challenge takes more than just intelligence, DI instructor Sheryl Townsend said.

“It’s a passion. You don’t have to be extremely smart, because it takes everything. You’ve got to have kids who are determined, artistic kids, kids that can build with their hands, good speakers. It’s a place for everybody,” she said.

Their project uses Greek mythology. Their device to navigate the maze is a robot minotaur. In order to navigate him through the maze, one of the team members plays a guitar, creating different frequencies in a soundwave tube that opens gates to allow the minotaur to escape.

To address the part of the challenge that calls for a prop that transforms in the maze, the team created a six-foot pendulum made up of 24 golf balls which when initiated, will swing in different patterns.

In addition to the science aspect of the challenge, the team also wears costumes and creates its own skit to perform in front of judges.

“It’s sort of like in theater arts, you have to do a play. Well they have to do a play that’s totally written by them. Every line, the entire story is written by them,” Townsend said.

At the state competition, visitors were so intrigued by the props the team used that when it came time to perform, it was standing room only.

It’s not just judges who have been impressed. Townsend said other students look into the classroom and see all of the interesting props and work being done and ask if they can join the team. Between the middle and high schools, Townsend said about 30 students participate in DI.

While the engineering team did not advance to Globals, their project did earn the coveted DaVinci Award at the state competition for creativity and risk taking.

Their project was a dragon made of balsa wood that stood up to 750 pounds of weights being dropped on it.

A nest located beside the dragon was made up of balsa wood fragments from earlier designs that didn’t stand up to testing.

“Judges know you have to use balsa wood, so that right there showed them they tested a lot,” Townsend said.

On Wednesday, Alvord’s team will join the 1,500 from around the world to compete. No matter how it turns out, the team will return knowing that it has secured its place in Alvord academic mythology.

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