Seventh-grader Terrell Owens excitedly gets out a small power tool Thursday to make some minor adjustments to his wooden structure.
Owens and his teammate, sixth-grader Madonna Moore, are working hard to prepare for Saturday's Destination Imagination regional tournament in Wright City. The two Missouri School for the Deaf students will be competing against other teams from all over the region. It's the first time Owens and Moore have competed, as it's their first year on a Destination Imagination (DI) team.
"I'm a little bit nervous," Owens says through his interpreter and DI team manager, Anni Hollenbeck. "I'm kind of shy. I don't want a whole lot of people looking at me, but I'll be all right."
Owens and Moore have been working on their DI projects since January, meeting after school Monday-Thursday. At Saturday's competition, the two students will compete in the "Structural Challenge" for their age group. They've divided up the challenge and Owens is working on designing and building a structure under 20 grams that is made of only wood, foil and glue. The 13-year-old will have to test the structure at the tournament to see how much weight it can hold before it breaks. Moore has happily taken over the skit part of the challenge where she'll have to present a story about a character that is foiled, matching the given title "Foiled Again." The 12-year-old is making her own props and costumes for the skit. The drama part of the DI program is her favorite, Moore said.
"I like it, because it's really fascinating," she signs to Hollenbeck.
Hollenbeck said the "Foiled Again" title has proven a challenge for the students, since "foiled" doesn't translate to its intended meaning through ASL.
Hollenbeck said DI gives students the chance to problem solve and use creative thinking skills. The biggest challenge, she says, is the teachers are not allowed to help the students with their projects; the middle-schoolers have to do all the work on their own. Ellen Foshay, assistant DI manager, agrees, saying at times it can be frustrating to only encourage and not step in and help. However, the teachers said the challenge is all a part of DI.
"It's interesting to watch how creative the kids can be," Foshay said.