Pupils' problem-solving skills are challenged

April 08, 2004

West Friendship Elementary School pupils put their problem-solving skills to use to win a challenge in the DestiNation Imagination North Central Regional Tournament on March 13 at Loch Raven High School.

Participating teams from Baltimore and Howard County elementary and middle schools also included Clemens Crossing Elementary and independent teams made up of pupils from several Howard middle schools, said Jennifer Hays, DestiNation Imagination coordinator for West Friendship.

West Friendship Elementary fielded three elementary-level teams of third- through fifth-graders; each accepted a different challenge.

The Time Flyers created a timing device for the "DestiNations in Time" challenge. The device was required to initiate the start of tasks the group had to perform and have an attached door through which team members could pass.

The Looney Chicks accepted a challenge called "Cartoon Dimensions," for which they had to create an original cartoon story.

The Super Mind Structures took on "GuessDImate" as their challenge, creating a wooden structure out of pieces shaped like ice-cream sticks, and guessing how much weight it would hold. The structure was about 4 inches tall, with four legs.

West Friendship also had three Rising Star teams of pupils from kindergarten through second grade. Each team performed its own play as part of "A Surprise Trip" challenge. The groups -- the Underwater Sea Animals, the Spacers and the Funky Monkeys -- had to create and perform a skit about losing their path and adventures they encountered along the way.

"It's a program that's available to all kids, not just those in the GT program," Hays said. "Any child that wants to can participate."

The Time Flyers won their challenge and will compete on the state level April 17 at Towson University. If they win first or second place at the state tournament, they will qualify to compete at Global Finals, being held May 26-29 at the University of Tennessee.

Last year, West Friendship had two teams competing in the regional tournament. One of them, the Disco Ducks, won and went on to the state level, but missed the global tournament by four points.

Hays was not discouraged.

"The biggest thing they learn is the creative thinking process and that there is more than one way to solve a problem," she said.

-- Caitlin O'Grady

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