Destination Imagination Collaborative and Fun

Destination Imagination Hands-On, Collaborative and Fun
Posted on 04/04/2019
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collage of Destination Imagination teamsLakota’s Destination Imagination program is thriving and has grown to 10 teams over the last four years.

And while you can measure the program’s success by regional awards won or the number of teams that go on to compete at the state level, the program’s impact on participants goes well beyond competitions.

"I was in Destination Imagination (DI) while I was in school and I know firsthand what a valuable asset it was to my overall education,” said Christine Westendorf, who re-instated the program at Lakota and serves as district coordinator, a team coach, and a DI board member.

Students learn how to think on their feet and work as a team, all while developing creativity and confidence,” said Westendorf. “And they have fun doing it, making friends along the way.” She added that for about $65, her daughter Cora participates in this program September through March. 

That’s because the program relies on volunteers; Lakota’s teams also have support from Lakota LEADS to pay for their competition fees.

DI is a global educational nonprofit that aims to inspire the next generation of innovators, leaders and creative problem solvers. Over 150,000 students in pre-K through college participate in the program each year worldwide.

Students are empowered to take their learning to the next level through project-based challenges that are hands-on, collaborative and fun. Each year, DI teams can select from seven different challenges that range from designing an aircraft to exploring medical mysteries to bringing a game to life. Components of the challenges include structural engineering, technical design, service learning, effective storytelling, theatre, arts and more.  

Teams generally meet once a week to work on their project, and more often as the regional tournament approaches in March.

During the competition, teams present their project as well as take part in an “instant challenge.” Team members don’t know what this challenge is until they walk into the room; it can be anything from creating a commercial to building something out of toothpicks.

At the March 16 regional competition, Lakota brought home a number of awards. The "Space Oddities" team won their division and are headed to the state tournament; they also won the Renaissance Award for Outstanding Performance. The "Chocolate Milkshake Kids" team won the Spirit of DI Award, and "Team Backup Plan" and "The Fortnite Flossers" each placed second in their instant challenges.

When Space Oddities team members Anna Leitsch and Cora Westendorf talk about DI, their enthusiasm is contagious. 

"One of my favorite parts of DI is building and putting things together,” said Cora, a fourth-grade student at Freedom Elementary. “We got to build a giant spaceship with wheels to hold all of our props. We even learned how to use a power drill (under parental supervision)!”

Space Oddities chose the fine arts challenge called Game On. The team had to research and choose a game with specified rules, and then create and present a mini skit about its history. The challenge also required that the team create a container that housed everything for the skit.

"I really liked writing a script,” said Anna, a Freedom third-grader. The girls say they switch around tasks so everyone gets a chance to try everything (building, scripts, making costumes).

"I also like the social part,” said Anna. “Cora and I have become good friends because of DI.” They met each other four years ago in DI and have been on the same team every year since.

For more information or to get involved, contact Christine Westendorf at