After taking first place at the Scientific Challenge at the State Destination Imagination Competition recently, Bethel Middle School’s Destination Imagination team accepted an invitation to compete at the global competition May 25-29. The team, titled Mixed Frequencies, will represent the Bryant School District in the contest in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The Bethel team was also awarded the special Renaissance Award for demonstrating outstanding skill in the areas of engineering, design and performance.
Team members are William Alverio, Charlotte Bryant, Ethan Blackford, Annalise Robbins, Geoffrey Sims, Sadie Breeding and Sydney Wilson. The staff coach is Michelle Alverio, and the volunteer team coach is Renee Buras Sims.
Renee Sims has been with the team since its time at Collegeville Elementary School and looks forward to continuing the team’s success next year as the students enter high school.
Destination Imagination is an extracurricular activity for students that takes place outside of the regular school schedule, Sims said. This year, team members chose to solve the scientific challenge. They had to research and apply methods from cryptography and steganography to create two different codes to encrypt and decrypt secret messages; design and create a gadget that appears to be an everyday item using scientific and technical means; create and integrate a disguised character; and create and present two team-choice elements that show off the team’s interests, skills, areas of strength and talents.
They then had to write an original story about a secret mission; design and build their set, props and costumes; then perform everything in fewer than eight minutes.
Specifically, the team researched and applied principles of physics, engineering, computer science, neuroscience and mathematics to create two original encryption and decryption codes based on sound and waves. They designed and built two multitonal instruments and wrote and produced an original play, incorporating Japanese mythology with a disguise character that transforms into the mythological eight-headed dragon, Yamata-no-Orochi.
The team also competed in an Instant Challenge — a building and/or performance challenge — that they have no idea about until they walk into the room. In the central challenge, they could earn up to 240 points, and they earned almost 218 of the total, Sims said.
“That is the highest central-challenge score I think I have seen in the five years I have been coaching,” Sims said. “This is 100 percent student-driven. They are not allowed to use any ideas from anyone outside their seven team members, and they have to research, plan and build everything themselves.”
Each team member brings so many different strengths, Sims said.
“They are all very creative and artistic, and they all love music, science, technology, writing and performance, so they have a lot of common ground to work with, but they are very different in the way they work,” Sims said. “It is fun to watch them work together.”
Last year, the team, then in seventh grade, chose to compete against the eighth-grade team at the Fine Arts Challenge. Mixed Frequencies placed second to the other team, which placed first.
“That amazing team ended up finishing in the top 10 at global finals last year, so we have big shoes to fill,” Sims said.
Team members will compete against about 70 other teams that represent more than 15 countries, Sims said.
Asked what they are looking forward to about the global competition, Geoffrey said he’ll see when he gets there. Charlotte noted all of the fun events that will take place, and William said he looks forward to meeting students from different places and going somewhere “to win it all.”
“Amazingly,” Sims added, “these students never show signs of being nervous. They just need to stay focused and keep working until the very end, enjoy their Destination Imagination journey and celebrate what is truly their success.”