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Destination Imagination inspires Students


Larry LaCom

Two Tehachapi Destination Imagination teams. In the back row are the girls from the middle school team, and in the front are the boys from the elementary school team.

There's a house in Bear Valley that twice a week hosts a gathering of school kids working on their projects. These projects stand a good chance of getting them into an international competition. Many of these kids actually got there last year, and have the souvenirs to show for it.

Destination Imagination (DI), a global non-profit sponsored by some large well-known corporations such as 3M, Ford and IBM , exists to provide students opportunities to increase their learning through participation in local teams. These teams take on projects which they then enter into competition on regional, state and international levels.

The focus of DI is to promote creativity through learning in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), fine arts and service learning. The students' projects will be presented at regional, state and global competitions as skits. Kids in over 45 states and 30 countries around the world are working on their projects, including these two teams teams from Tehachapi.

Larry LaCom

Student dropping the final weight, making the total 250 pounds.

I watched as one of the teams tested their project. They built a small support structure using only balsa wood, Gorilla Glue and cork. This small structure was then inserted into a wooden platform to test its ability to withstand weight. The weight of the structure they built is only 32 grams, and the platform was designed to allow barbell weights to be dropped onto it from a certain height. This little 32g balsa wood structure was able to withstand 250 pounds. before it broke. Students learned the specifics of exactly how to place each piece in their structure, and why – engineering skills they get to not only learn on paper, but in actual practice.

The global competition is held in Tennessee, and last year a team from Tehachapi qualifed to go there, placing well in the ranks. Their most memorable experience was mixing with students from all around the country and around the world, exchanging their team pins with each other. They collected pins from many countries including China, Europe, Turkey, South Korea and Guatemala.

More information about DI can be found at, or for the California site, The local Tehachapi contact is Kelly Keller, who can be reached at [email protected]


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