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Clear Spring team's Destination is global domination

Students to compete in global contest this week in Tennessee

Students to compete in global contest this week in Tennessee

May 19, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

CLEAR SPRING - It seemed only fitting that the Clear Spring High School Destination Imagination team members should go out of their way to perform for the service group that has so loyally sponsored their efforts over the years.

On May 5, they performed for the members of the Clear Spring Lions Club, just a few weeks ahead of their trip to Knoxville, Tenn., where they will take part in the global competition May 21 to 24 at the University of Tennessee.

"The Lions have supported us morally and financially for eight years," said Team Manager Patty Blair, something she and the team members appreciate

The Destination Imagination program is dedicated to fostering creative problem solving -- thinking outside the box -- according to team supporter Lydia Byrne.

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"The team registration fee has gone up from $2,800 in 2005 (our last trip) to $4,000 this year," Byrne said. "We are fundraising like mad and would welcome any contributions."

The Clear Spring team that took top honors in its division at the state competition on April 12 has seven members -- Mackenzie and Matthew Blair, Kyle Byrne, Ben Cornwell, Megan Micco, Brandon Rada and Jordan Winters.

Mackenzie and Kyle have been on the team since the beginning, when they were in fourth grade. This will be their fifth trip to Tennessee.

According to Lydia Byrne, the two did Destination Imagination every year through their freshman year of high school, after which they all decided that academics, band, sports and everything else was enough to keep them busy.

This year, the seniors decided to give the competition one more try, to see if they could return to globals, she said. Each of the others, except for Ben, also has been to global finals, either on this team or another from Clear Spring.

"We have been working on it since January," Blair said. "It's a big commitment, especially with high school-age students."

The project title is "Challenge E: Switch, the structure building challenge."

Every year the core of the problem involves building a lightweight structure that is tested by stacking weights on top of it.

This year the structure had to be able to be tested in two orientations and weigh in at less than 22 grams -- less than 1/20 of a pound.

At the state competition, Kyle's structure held a final weight of 595 pounds, according to Lydia Byrne.

The testing of the structure is presented in an original skit that must last no longer than seven minutes and incorporates a "switch item," whose use must be demonstrated in two ways by the team.

The team chose the Berlin Wall as its theme and used a hammer as the switch item, to build and tear down the wall that divided that city for so long, she said.

The writing of the skit, building of the props, the costumes and the music all had to be created by the team. At the state competition, Clear Spring was given the prestigious Renaissance Award for outstanding design, engineering or performance; only one such award is given each year at the state level.

Blair said the team also won the DaVinci regional award.

The musical score created by Brandon was particularly singled out for praise, Byrne said.

Except for the first year, Clear Spring teams have always chosen the structure problem for their main challenge, including the years with two and three teams.

"One year we had all three teams go to the global finals," Byrne said.

When the team returns, fundraising will continue, Byrne said. On Saturday, May 31, team members will be at Wal-Mart at The Centre at Hagerstown on U.S. 40 selling flavored-ice cones and possibly other items.

Donations to the team may be mailed to Clear Spring DI, c/o Patty Blair, Box 128, Clear Spring, MD 21722.

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