So Pas Students Earn DaVinci Award at DI Global Finals

Team Slices & DI-ces (front row from left) Marengo Elementary third-grader Cayden Arlett, fourth-grader Claire Jin and third-grader Alex Liebe. (Back row from left) Arroyo Vista fifth-grader Catelyn Hodson, Pasadena Christian School second-grader Harry Andrews and Marengo Elementary fifth-grader Eileen Chen. Photo by Jon Morgan

Competing against teams from 15 countries and 50 U.S. states, Team Slices & DI-ces, a group of creative and innovative students from Arroyo Vista Elementary School, Marengo Elementary School and Pasadena Christian School was awarded the DaVinci Award for their “exceptional creativity” in designing a flying machine with payload delivery ability at the Destination Imagination (DI) Global Finals, which were held May 22-May 25 in Kansas City, Missouri. This is the very first time a South Pasadena team received the prestigious award at the Global Finals.

The technical challenge “On Target” they completed is a part of a competition through Destination Imagination, an educational nonprofit organization active in 30 countries that works to promote innovation and creative problem-solving through team-based tournaments. The tournaments explore STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) concepts in a hands-on environment.

The team during their trip to Kansas City, Mo. Photo courtesy of Jessica Arlett

The team, managed by Jessica Arlett, consists of Arroyo Vista fifth-grader Catelyn Hodson; Marengo third-grader Carden Arlett, fifth-grader Eileen Chen, fourth-grader Claire Jin and third-grader Alex Liebe; and Pasadena Christian School second-grader Harry Andrews. The team is in their fourth year together, with Alex as the newcomer, and Kansas City marks their third year in the competitive division. The team manager Jessica Arlett said that participating in DI provides the students with a unique opportunity to forge strong connections as they work through the process of prototyping a design, building it, refining it and successfully achieving a working project.
“These are very long-term friendships now,” said Arlett. “Part of that helps pull them through the difficult times. When they get frustrated, they know their teammates are depending on them. It’s a lot like a sports team in that way.”

In the technical challenge, Team Slices & DI-ces crafted a quadcopter that lifted off the ground and was required to drop a payload at a bullseye target. The closer to the center the payload landed, the more points. If the craft touched the ground before the payload was dropped, the team would have received zero pointers. The team innovated a solution where their payload was dropped with a string and was crafted with LEGO wheels under it so that it could roll further once it touched the ground, gaining more points.
“Out of all the potential solutions to the payload delivery, a self-directed payload was beyond our imagination!” the appraisers noted in the judging remarks. “This team took a risk and designed a Payload that stayed within the bounds of the rules but innovated in a way that we had not seen.”

At work during the competition. Photo courtesy of Jessica Arlett

“I think the appraisers really appreciated that because this program really encourages out of the box thinking,” shared Arlett. “Everyone else was trying to fly over there and drop it and their solution was something very different than that.”

Team member Cayden Arlett said it was a challenge making the craft fly but the team found a solution by designing the propellers to go faster and fixing broken wires along the way.
“I felt good about it,” said Cayden. “It was fun because I like soldering. I got to build stuff and solder stuff and heatshrink stuff.”

Fellow team member Eileen Chen said a primary goal of the team was to make their project as creative as possible. The challenge was part theater and part engineering, as the team performed an eight-minute skit during their round.
“I just really loved making all our props and stuff because I think that the work seemed really nice,” said Eileen. “I feel like it’s better than anything we’ve ever done in the past years.”
“We were really happy because out of all the years we’ve done DI…we made it to Globals every time, but we’ve never gotten a medal,” Eileen shared.” When we found out that we got a medal, we were so happy!”

Pasadena Christian School second-grader Harry Andrews (from left), Marengo Elementary third-grader Cayden Arlett, Marengo Elementary third-grader Alex Liebe, Marengo Elementary fifth-grader Eileen Chen, Arroyo Vista fifth-grader Catelyn Hodson and Marengo Elementary fourth-grader Claire Jin with their quadcopter. Photo courtesy of Jessica Arlett