In May, a team of seven third graders from Carondelet Catholic School in Minneapolis traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee, to compete in the Destination Imagination Global Finals with 17,000 students from around the world. The team qualified for the global competition by winning second place in the service learning category of the Destination Imagination state competition in April.
Destination Imagination is a global, project-based learning program that teaches students of all ages to identify and overcome challenges in various categories using collaboration, patience, flexibility and persistence. It combines aspects of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with entrepreneurship and the arts, encouraging innovation and creative problem-solving. Students are supervised by volunteers who meet with students during after-school sessions.
Teams compete at regional tournaments, presenting their projects to a panel of judges including educators, artists and engineers. They are evaluated on originality, workmanship, presentation and teamwork. In 2016, 150,000 students competed at the regional and state levels, but only 8,000 earned a spot at the Global Finals.
Led by teacher Heather Faber, Carondelet’s team consisted of seven third graders: Edric Duffy, Hugh Kocourek, Julianna Pacheco, Henry Riehl, Madeleine Stoffel, Amelia Stricherz and Harriet White.
The team’s project inspiration came from a problem they noticed in their own community. Carondelet families regularly donate food to the Waite House Food Shelf in Minneapolis, but collections stop during the summer months when school isn’t in session.
Finding this seasonal decline in food supply at the Waite House unsettling, the Carondelet team decided to create a solution. Together, they planned a 35-act talent show and charged an admission fee for family and friends to attend. The event raised $3,600 for the Waite House, helping to stock food shelves for the entire summer.
To present their project at the tournaments and share its positive community impact, the students developed a theatrical presentation, meme and news broadcast. When their presentation landed them a spot at Global Finals, they raised more than $12,000 to fund a team trip to Knoxville.
“We are so proud of these students,” Faber said. “They put in so much thought, time and energy into this project. They chose to do the service learning project for a cause that is dear to our community. This is a great example of how Carondelet students use their talents for the greater good, part of our mission and philosophy.”