Brooks Library Teams Win Destination Imagination Tournament

by William F. Galvin

HARWICH – Two homeschool teams sponsored by Brooks Free Library finished in first place in a statewide Destination Imagination tournament earlier this month.

The competition requires teams to employ engineering skills and creativity to meet challenges placed before them.

This is the first time two teams from Brooks Free Library have finished first in their categories in the statewide competition put on by the nonprofit Destination Imagination organization, according to Youth Services Librarian Ann Carpenter, who serves as team coach.

The competition requires a team to work together using engineering, creativity, theatrical skills, arts and other talents and abilities to complete challenges presented to them at the tournament for the first time.

“It’s an instant challenge we know nothing about,” said Carpenter.

“I loved my experience with Destination Imagination this year because it was challenging,” said Max Stewart, a member of the middle school team. “It got me to do things that I’ve never done before, and it got me out of my comfort zone. I also learned how to work as a team.”

“I am thankful I learned how to be affirming of other people’s ideas and add my own ideas to the solutions to solve the challenges. I made new friends and we had fun working together as a team,” added Aurora Stewart, an eight-year-old on the elementary school team.

There are two competitions statewide each year, and the library brought elementary and middle school homeschool teams to the March 10 competition in Beverly. Carpenter said the tournament allows public, private and homeschool teams in various age categories to compete.

Brooks Free Library, which provides homeschool programs centered around Destination Imagination challenges and has a homeschool activities club, sent a six-member elementary school-age team and a three-member middle school-age team to the tournament. The elementary school team consisted of Shahnaz Texeira, Sara Girardin, Callen Camerlengo-Ford, Anna Girardin, Aurora Stewart and Hadley Moeck. Middle school team members were Max Stewart, Elliott Comstock and Luke Sparrow.

The elementary team did an improv challenge, said Carpenter. They were provided a box containing costume elements and researched stock characters, such as a pirate or a teacher. When a hero shows up, they must determine what they expect the hero will do or look like and characterizations such as that. They then weigh a dozen different intensifiers, such as sad or gloomy, said Carpenter.

Then the team picks out of a hat one stock character and one intensifier and they must create a two-act play featuring the stock character in a costume that reflects the one intensifier. The team is given up to 15 minutes to write a two-minute skit and build a tower out of ping-pong balls. The appraisers assess how well the students received the challenges and how well the team worked together.

“Our final product was a damsel in distress who was newsworthy and had to teach a fish to sing,” Carpenter said of the winning scenario.

The middle school team chose the engineering challenge and had to build a modular device that could fling bean bags accurately onto a target. Then the device had to be taken apart and reassembled with a different configuration that could also fling bean bags at a target. They also had to incorporate the modular machine into a short play written by the improv team.

“They did a fantastic job. Both teams took first place in their categories,” Carpenter said.

“I appreciate my team and my leader for letting me include acrobatics in the story,” said Luke Sparrow of the challenge put before his team.

Added parent Joy Sparrow, “It is my opinion that win or lose, the experience of participating in DI is a success due to the strong leadership of Ann, including her ability to engage the children’s imagination, and consistently create an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance.”

“There is no one like Ann!” said parent Colleen Stewart. “She provided an environment of energy, enthusiasm, creativity and faith in the kids to work together to solve problems, always offering positive feedback which spurred them on to continue to meet their challenges.”

The Destination Imagination tournament was put on hold during the pandemic. The library had sponsored the program for several years before that.