Destination Imagination is an educational program where student teams creatively solve open-ended challenges, then present their solutions at regional and state tournaments with the most successful going on to the Global Finals.
"In DI our ideas and dreams become reality," said Amritha Tamalingam, a student at Hart Middle School who is a member of The Other Team. "DI is important to me because I get to solve a given problem the way I want to and not the way adults think it should be solved. I learn things that most kids my age do not get a chance to, like the use of power tools."
Three of the teams are from middle schools:
* The Layers of Zephyr -- Wind Visible Challenge
* The Other Team -- In Disguise Challenge
* Pleasanton Sparks -- Twist-O-Rama Challenge
The fourth team is high school level:
* Team LEAP -- Project Outreach
The seven, open-ended challenges require the students to apply science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), in addition to improvisation, theater arts, writing, project management, communication, innovation, teamwork and community service.
"I like DI because of the many ways you can have fun, yet still do a large amount of work, and act as a team," said Hart student Daniel Huang, a member of The Layers of Zephyr. "You are allowed to be wacky or serious and bring out your performing side, as well as an architecture standpoint."
At the State Tournament, The Layers of Zephyr received a special Renaissance Award for the skillful execution of a hydraulic system that added efficiency and reliability to its set design. The Other Team received the Renaissance Award for the engineering and design of its props.
Team LEAP received the DaVinci award at the Regional Tournament for its Project Outreach. Team members worked with the East Bay Children's Book Project in Oakland and collected 2,500 new and used children books through a neighborhood drive and collection bins at the schools and book stores.
"I like DI because it requires teamwork," summed up Hart student Neel Chitale from The Layers of Zephyr. "You find out things about yourself that you never knew. In fact, you create things that are incredible. Later you meet people from other countries and grasp a little of the different types of cultures."
This year, 100,000 young people have competed in tournaments throughout the U.S. and in 30 countries to earn a spot at the Global Finals. The four Pleasanton teams are among more than 8,000 students representing more than 1,250 teams advancing to Global Finals at the University of Tennessee.
National Geographic author and photographer Joel Sartore will speak at the opening ceremony of the Global Finals. An Innovation Expo will have exhibits from NASA, Michigan Tech's Mindtrekkers, 3M and many other innovative companies.
Team members are as follows:
* The Layers of Zephyr: Aaron Berson (Hart), Neel Chitale (Hart), Shanth Gopalswamy (Hart), Sander Head (Pleasanton Middle School), Daniel Huang (Hart), Russell Sullivan (Hart), and team managers Jen Berson and Grishma Desai.
* The Other Team: Amritha Ramalingam (Hart), Purvaj Kandula (Hart), Trent Pozzi (Harvest), Divya Vilekar (Harvest), Rhea Kodkani (Harvest), David Azuma (Harvest), and team managers Rupal Ravi-Chandar and Coleen Ito-Azuma.
* Pleasanton Sparks: Ananth Kumar, Sharanya Kumar, Ashira Monga, Gaurav Joshi, Tommy Kim, Varun Rao, and team manager Kris Kumar.
* Team LEAP: Akhil Ramalingam (Foothill), Amar Jyothiprakash (Foothill), Koby Carino (Amador), Manas Abhyankar (Amador), Omkar Moghe (Foothill), Christopher Azuma (Amador), Michael Azuma (Amador), and team manager Brett Azuma.