From Imagination to Innovation: Three Severn Teams Compete in Destination Imagination

This year three teams of Severn 4th, 5th and 6th graders joined students from all over the world to compete in the Destination Imagination 16-17 tournament season. From the regional competition in February to the state competition in April (with one team moving on to the global tournament in May!) our 4th, 5th and 6th graders are showing the world that student-driven creative problem solving is at the heart of how we learn at Severn.

What is Destination Imagination?

Destination Imagination is a collaborative problem solving curriculum that teaches the creative process through long- and short-term team projects culminating in judged, live performances.

“Destination Imagination teaches the creative process from imagination to innovation. Every year our participants go on an extraordinary journey with their teammates to collaborate and solve a challenge in one of six categories: Fine Arts, Engineering, Service Learning, Scientific, Technical, and Improvisational Acting. Team members spend about 6 months solving their challenge and then attend tournaments to present their solutions to judges.

Our students love the creative control they have during DI as all ideas and creations come from them. Adults are forbidden from interfering with the process; we are around to help guide them with acquiring skills and to keep them on track. The program provides hands on experiential and relevant learning; it is a perfect fit for our school.”  — DI coordinator and team manager Ms. Crystal Erskine
Problem Solving in the Long and Short Term
Destination Imagination has two main parts — the central challenge and the instant challenge. The central, long-term challenge centers around engineering, arts, service and tech and involves extensive planning, research, iteration and review. The instant challenge requires a slightly different set of skills as students must use quick, creative, critical thinking strategies to succeed. Over the course of six months, each team will complete dozens of simulated instant challenges to prepare for their tournament performance while concurrently working on the long-term central challenge. 

Introducing Severn's DI 16-17 Teams

Team Maroon 7, 4th Grade
Supported by team manager Ms. Crystal Erskine, first time DI competitors Team Maroon 7 chose The “Vanished” Fine Arts Challenge. Flexing their acting, creative and technical muscles with clever script and prop design, they experimented with different types of artistic media and theater arts to tell the story of what would happen if a single color disappeared from the planet.

4th Grade Destination Imagination team group photo.
Summer Hilliard '25, Sam de los Reyes '25, Grant Lonergan '25, Harlan Erskine '25, Davis Mann '25, Finn Fries '25, and Alex Zaremski '25

4th Grade Destination Imagination team shows off their clever set and costume design in rehearsal before the regional tournament.
Our 4th grade DI team shows off their clever set and costume design during the final rehearsal before the regional tournament.

Team Double-O Severn, 5th Grade
With team managers Ms. Heather Mayers and Ms. Barb Moran, our 5th graders took on The “Show and Tech” Technical Challenge in which they had to create a show with an opening and headlining act, build the stage on which to present those acts, and wow their audience with technical effects during the show.

5th Grade Destination Imagination team group photo.
Ms. Heather Mayers, Zak Given ‘24, Ian Dabrowka '24, Spencer Gibbons-Neff ‘24, Ms. Barb Moran, Will Friedell ‘24, Mitchell Seaton ‘24, Dylan Aubin ‘24, and Jagan Som ‘24 (not pictured)

“My team learned many life lessons over the past several months, with the most important being that through persistence and determination they can accomplish anything. It makes my heart smile to see how well they collaborate as a team. I look forward to watching them sharing their talents with students from around the world at Global Finals.“ — Team manager Ms. Heather Mayers

Our 5th grade DI team demonstrates their "amazing tech effect" for parents at rehearsal before the regional tournament.

Team KABAMD, 6th Grade
With team managers Ms. Crystal Erskine and Ms. Deb Smith, 6th grade Team KABAMD took on The “Top Secret” Scientific Challenge. Blending the research and curiosity of science with the thrill and creativity of the theater arts, they told the story of a secret mission complete with disguises, secret codes and hand-designed gadgets and props.

Severn's 6th grade DI team shows their problem solving and team building skills at the state tournament.
Anna Erskine ‘23, Maggie Cahouet ‘23, Aidan Gilroy '23, Konner Smith '23, Blake Hoyt ‘23, and Davis Cawlfield ‘23

“We could not be more proud of this 6th grade team and their dedication, creativity and personal commitment to planning and presenting at DI. Their performance, which included everything from a secret photobooth to homemade invisible ink and a message written in a team-created secret language based on geometry, showed their creativity and ingenuity. These are skills they will keep and use all of their lives.” — Team manager Ms. Deb Smith

6th Grade Destination Imagination team performs at the state tournament.
Our 6th Grade DI team performing at the state tournament!

It's the process that counts

Although the overall goal of these challenges is to participate in the regional, state and global competitions, the real value lies in the months of preparation leading up to their performances. Our students learn to work through the design process as a team, crafting unique solutions to their given challenges while having a ton of fun along the way.

At Severn, we encourage this type of innovation and creativity across grade levels and disciplines, in and out of the classroom. Want to learn more about design thinking and innovation at Severn School? Read about our Chesapeake Campus Maker Lab and our Teel Campus Graw Innovation Center.

Lower School

Preschool-Grade 5
Chesapeake Campus
1185 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd
Arnold, MD 21012

Middle/Upper School

Grade 6-12
Teel Campus
Severna Park, MD 21146