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St. Mary School's teams go global

Two of the school's Destination Imagination teams to compete in finals

Two of the school's Destination Imagination teams to compete in finals

May 23, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Naked mole rats and Lederhosen were 13 St. Mary School students' tickets to an international competition this week.

Two St. Mary teams will be competing in Destination Imagination's global finals, held Wednesday to Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn.

Destination Imagination is an international problem solving competition for elementary through high school students. Around 250,000 children and teenagers will participate in this year's competition, said organization spokeswoman Lisa Lilienthal.

Teams from as far as Korea and Singapore will participate in the competition, Lilienthal said. The St. Mary students will be the only team representing Washington County, said Daniel Henderson, the organization's regional director for Western Maryland.

Medals and trophies are awarded to the top six finishers, Lilienthal said.

In the competition, students are presented a problem - such as building two separate units able to hold 14 grams when the structures are combined. They must then present a creative solution to the problem in an 8-minute skit.

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The fifth-grade team had to create such a structure, but they also had to incorporate the name of a famous architect in their skit. So they chose to use naked mole rats as a metaphor for the architects of New York City's first subway system, George L. Heins and Christopher Grant Lafarge.

They used the Queen of the Naked Mole Rat's crown as their load-bearing structure.

Naked mole rats look like hairless moles with long buck teeth and tiny eyes. They spend the majority of their lives burrowing for food, thus creating a network of tunnels kind of like a subway, the students explained.

The eighth-grade team chose Liechtenstein - a tiny European country that could fit inside Washington County at least seven times - as the setting for their challenge.

The eighth-graders had to incorporate a foreign country, a hat with some sort of mechanical function, a calamity that causes a worldwide stir, and singing and dancing, said one of the group's members, Courtney Peterson, 13, of Hagerstown.

They also had to choose a movie theme.

"We picked action-adventure," Courtney said.

Students said they have been tweaking their skits since September, practicing three times a week for three hours at time.

"We eat, sleep and breathe 'DI'," said fifth-grade team member Aaron Snook, 11, of Williamsport.

Adult team leader Susan McGinley said she's missing her son's high school graduation for the competition.

"You obviously wouldn't miss graduation unless it was a once-in-a-lifetime event," said McGinley, who has two daughters competing in the tournament.

The students said all of the hard work was worth it.

"The whole point of 'DI' is to have fun, but you learn something while you're doing it," said Isabella Schiro, a 12-year-old seventh-grader on the eighth-grade team.

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