Lower School Students to Compete in Destination Imagination Global Finals

Ten students will participate in the Global Finals tournament at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in late May.

Ten Lower School students are going global—that is, they’re going to the Global Finals tournament for Destination Imagination (DI)! This is the first time in Steward’s 13 years of participating in DI that two teams of students will advance to the final tournament.

The DI program is a hands-on learning system that fosters students’ creativity through open-ended academic challenges in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). DI hosts regional tournaments around the world in which qualifying teams move on to compete at the state level. The top-tiered teams from each state qualify to participate in Global Finals, a culminating international tournament that includes more than 8,000 children from more than 15 countries.

After qualifying at the regional level in February, our “Shakespearean Safari” team (coached by Lower School teacher Chris Tickle) and “Spartans of the Seas” team (coached by Steward parent Kim Magrill) competed in the state-level tournament at Atlee High School on Saturday, April 8. Though Mr. Tickle and Mrs. Magrill guided students in preparing for the challenges, they could not offer any solutions or help in putting the final presentation together.

At states, Shakespearean Safari competed in the “Show and Tech” challenge: they had to create a two-act show in which each act would feature a technical effect. In addition, they had to create a stage with a section that could move a team member from one place to another.

For their solution, they created an effect using a mirror to simulate flight during the opening act of their show, Flying Purple People Eater. Their headlining act was a story adaptation of Hamlet, acted out by a cast of animals. Using green screen technology, the ghostly head of Hamlet’s father appeared to Hamlet via FaceTime on his iPad against a background of dry ice fog. This team placed first in their age group.

Spartans of the Seas competed in the “In It Together” challenge in which they had to create two or more separate structures that would work together to support weight. They also had to create a story that involved two or more countries (current or historic) working together to solve a problem.

In their story, the ancient Romans and the ancient Greeks are concerned because their people were becoming sick from unpurified water. They are visited by the Indian goddess of water who shares the technology her culture uses to purify water. The three countries then work together by symbolically placing their four pillars of water purification (constructed from balsa wood) on a weight testing machine and then adding weights to it. Their structure (which weighed several ounces) held more than 600 pounds. This team placed second in their age group.

Mr. Tickle, who has taken teams of students to DI tournaments for nearly 20 years, said that though students are able to select and prepare in advance for the challenges they will participate in, they also compete in an “instant challenge” at the tournament in which they must come up with a solution on the spot without any forewarning.

“It’s really beneficial for them because I think life is an instant challenge,” he said. “You go through the day with a plan in mind, but how many times does something happen where things don’t go as expected and then you have think on your feet to figure out a different way to succeed? It shows students how important innovative thinking and teamwork are in real life.”

The Global Finals tournament will be held at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville from May 24-27. We wish you best of luck, Spartans!

Shakespearean Safari team members:

  • Katie Hall ’24
  • Zak Qureshi ’24*
  • Gilbert Cooper ’25*
  • Lauren Meaker ’25*
  • Deeya Natarajan ’25*
  • Karina Blanco ’26

Spartans of the Seas team members:

  • Max Magrill ’24
  • Shreya Natarajan ’25
  • Ella Adamson ’26
  • Oliver McGregor ’26

* Denotes team members who competed on last year’s DI team, which also attended Global Finals.


Steward Voices

Steward is an atmosphere that fosters confidence—something we have seen in all three of our kids. Whether it is playing a new sport, running for a seat on the Honor Council, or singing a solo on Talent Night, they have been encouraged to try, to experience, and to grow.
- Dan and Kathi Campbell, Parents of Abbie ’19, Emma ’17, and Ben ’14

Steward Voices

Steward is the right place for Micah and Kiri because they are able to develop strong connections with their teachers, which in turn facilitates confidence and resilience in their learning. Everyone at Steward knows your name and makes you feel so welcome.
- Paul and Janet Yoon, Parents of Kiri ’27 and Micah ’26

Steward Voices

Steward helped me develop the skills I needed to succeed in college and the courage and confidence to set competitive career goals for myself. But, these skills weren’t lessons I learned just in Steward’s classrooms; they came from the athletic fields, in the hallways, and during Honor Council meetings, too.
- Grace Henderson ’10

Steward Voices

Steward provides Andrew with a nurturing environment which fosters his individualism, develops exemplary character traits, and continuously provides him with creative learning experiences. Consequently, Andrew ‘loves’ school and anticipates each day with joy, enthusiasm, and excitement.
- Betsy Jollay, Grandmother of Andrew O’Leary ’25

Steward Voices

I love all that The Steward School has done for Trace. Steward has uncovered Trace’s talents, celebrated his individuality, and strengthened his belief in himself. The faculty and staff offer an amazing balance of challenge and comfort, encouraging the best from all students. I can’t imagine Trace being anywhere else. Thank you, Steward School.
- Ron Coles, Father of Trace Coles ’19 and Grade 5 Teacher

Steward Voices

Being a member of The Steward School international program has been an awesome experience. The community has helped me tremendously along the way.
- Bowen Chen ’15


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