Do you remember, back in high school, the Odyssey of the Mind (OM) competitions? The yearly challenge was a huge deal in my school, though I was usually neck-deep in putting on a show when it came time to form the team for OM.
It appears Odyssey of the Mind is now Destination Imagination (DI), but they’re still putting on really incredible competitions that challenge kids to organize and bring their creative ideas to life. DI has been doing this since 1982–they’re very good at it. Competition is tough (many schools participate across the nation) and student groups win their way up through local, regional and eventually national levels. The ultimate goal is to get to the global event, which only 9% of teams are able to achieve.
This year, Virginia fourth grade students at Smithland Elementary School accepted the Feary Tale Challenge and formed themselves into a self-organized group named the Miracle Builders. Their challenge required them to write a play (an entire play!) that had an illusion, addressed a phobia, incorporated visual art and a whole lot more. The play has been a resounding success, advancing through the various levels of competition, and now the Miracle Builders have been invited to present the show in the global competition in Knoxville, TN.
Regular blog readers probably don’t know, but I’ve got two degrees in theatre (go theatre management!). I’ve been involved in the production of many, many, many shows across all levels and can tell you what these kids have achieved in self-organizing, writing and producing a play is exceptional.
Drafting the script, building sets and making costumes requires the students to sacrifice their evenings each week and weekend afternoons. Working as a group requires them to share ideas and compromise. One of the requirements is that the kids do the work themselves, and these fourth graders have worked for nine months doing just that to earn this invite.
The last thing they have to do is raise the money to get to the global competition. You can help them do that by giving at their Indiegogo page.
- These seven teammates set a goal for themselves when they started meeting back in August: to compete in the Globals Finals! They just missed the invitation last year, finishing in 4th place at the State Championships.
- Every week they met in their team managers kitchen to brainstorm, create, argue, and negotiate. Sometimes they would leave the meeting feeling defeated. Sometimes they left the meeting feeling inspired!
- At the Regional Tournament they presented the solution to the “Feary Tale” challenge – a story of a cotton ball who magically comes alive and is forced to confront his deep-seated fear of a vacuum cleaner. Their solution required not only a story, but also an illusion and two different forms of artwork – functional and expressive.
- After winning the 2nd place spot in the Regional Tournament against stiff competition, the team recommitted to their goal and made some changes. They finished in 3rd place (against 20 other competitors) at State for their main challenge and won the gold for their Instant Challenge solution!
- The co-team managers could not be more proud and we are honored to see them compete in Knoxville, TN against the best teams from the country and around the world.
Lastly, the kids have committed to doing and hour of community service for every $100 donated. Click here to help them make it to the global competition! Every little bit helps!
The Miracle Builders and your intrepid author both thank you for your support!