Chappaqua’s first Destination Imagination (DI) team comprised of seven Chappaqua 6th graders recently placed first in their category at a regional competition held in Ossining. In addition to winning first place the team called the Pirates received an honorary award–the DaVinci Award –for a creative solution that combined art and science.
Of the seven main challenge category types, the Pirates competed in the Technical challenge–in which they had to design and build a maze traveler that, using any technical method, could complete one of eight possible mazes. The maze was chosen two minutes before their performance, and while their traveler completed the maze, the team had to tell a story about the traveler’s voyage, have the traveler remove an object from the maze using a technical method, and transform a prop using a technical method. Additionally, the Pirates had to include two elements in their presentation that showed off a team member’s specific skill or interest.
To complete the challenge, the team’s maze traveler was a stripped down remote control car which they hacked its receiver, electronic speed control and steering servo. They attached an Arduino chip to the receiver and coded the chip to control the car instead of its normal controller. Then, they attached a Bluetooth controller so that we can send instructions through an iPhone. They developed a C++ driving program that lets them send a string of commands to the car based on the maze. The car was then able to fully navigate itself in an autopilot mode.
The Pirates won their tournament on April 7 in Binghamton and they’ll be representing New York State by competing at the global level in May.
Lisa Shaiken, one of the team’s coaches was first exposed to DI when her daughter, Jenna, was in 4th grade. She went to school in another district which offered this program as an after school activity. “Jenna was super excited about trying it and begged me to be her team’s coach. It was a wonderful experience and our team won the regional, state and made it to the global competition,” noted Shaiken.
“I learned more about myself and discovered things about myself that I didn’t know. This has really given me more confidence and I’m more open to sharing my opinions and listening to others,” explained Jenna Shaiken, a sixth grader at Seven Bridges Middle School and team member. Another participant, Alyssa Rose said,“I’ve learned that teamwork is incredibly important if you want to accomplish something.”