Destination Imagination 2012 Opening Ceremony

Not a rock concert, but opening ceremony for Destination Imagination Global Finals where student creativity, critical problem solving and collaboration skills meet science, tech, the arts, engineering, math and social projects.

When you go where creativity isn’t allowed, but expected – and expected in a big way – it calibrates your view on what is possible.

This happens when over 8,000 of the World’s most creative and innovative student teams come together for Destination Imagination Global Finals. I volunteer to share the events across social media with a “storyteller’s eye” and an amazing team of storytellers who happen to use cameras and video to help bring the story beyond text or language. Our goal is to bring this event “home” to tens of thousands of people around the world in real-time from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Destination Imagination adds the creative process to core school subjects.

Destination Imagination, or “DI” as the kids calls it, is most often run as an after school program for over 100,000 students in all 50 states and over 30 countries around the globe. DI adds the creative process to core school subjects. Student teams of no more than seven students select one of several open-ended challenges that have a focus on science, technology, the arts, improv, engineering, math or social learning. These challenges must be solved by the student team members alone for fixed amount of funds (generally about $125 US), and are scored on creativity, innovation and collaboration. What may look like a skit is really a complex answer to a complex question, presented to inform, entertain and amaze.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and to some extent, Google+ were used, as well as a live video stream on online photos via Smugmug. Sponsors were quick to pick up on the social media impact, with over 4,000 engagements and over 1,000,000 photo views in the first four days alone. The hashtag #IDODI (Get it? I do ‘DI’) was a big hit with 3M, NASA, Texas Instruments, ThinkFun, Ameresco and others.

Hearing Pride through Social Media

Hearing proud parents, friends, educators, members of the media and business across the social sphere was heartwarming and reinforced the impact that the program has not only on the students, but in their communities as well. I am particularly grateful to have been listening to the older high school and college students as well as parents sharing their take on the event, as well as the voices back home. Special thanks to Hootsuite who allowed us to leverage their enterprise suite for the project that makes such a huge difference to these kids and their families back home.

The Best Part… 

One team’s solution featuring limited light to explain research. What look’s like a skit is often a complex solution to a complex challenge.

No matter what a child wants to do when they grow up, they will need to master certain skills. While recent studies show Destination Imagination participants credit the program for helping them do better in school, the story is with the Alumni of DI. There are over 1.5 million alumni and many say they’ve learned communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity skills while working through these challenges with the teams. Most also add that they’ve gained a sense of confidence as well. This is evident as more and more of the Destination Imagination alumni return to volunteer as appraisers (or judges)  in competitions around the world.

What has developed is a community of lifelong learners that support creativity. They come from every personal, political and possible spectrum. Many come back when they get older to donate their time to help other students around from around the world make a real difference.

For more information, you can visit Destination Imagination online.

Disclosure: I am a member of the board of directors of New Hampshire Destination Imagination and volunteer to the non-profit Destination Imagination, Inc.

I could not have done this without the help of my amazing volunteer social media, video and photography teams as well as the support of UT Conferences

(University of Tennessee).

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