DI sprung out of the ashes of the non-profitness of Odyssey of the Mind. People worked very hard for their program, and they were sad to see it turn they way it did. DI has many of the same aspects of the Odyssey of the Mind program, and now, many of the same people. Balsa wood problems, same team size, same goals or learning and fun.

Problem sets each feature a certain objective to be completed during a skit. Students prepare the problem in the months before the competition, and then perform it at their regional competition. Winning teams go on to states (for their individual state), and then worlds, which take place now in Tennessee (OM now takes place in Disney World, one of the only benefits of it's for-profit status).

The teams are broken up into the following levels:
  • Primary: Grades K-2 (or 5-9 years old)
  • Elementary: Grades K-5 (or no student above 12)
  • Middle: Grades 6-8 (or no student above 15)
  • Secondary: High School (no student above 19)
  • Collegiate: College, no younger students
Each level competes per problem, per level (Primary teams are cute, but do not go on to states). Winners in their local division go on to states (usually top two teams). Teams are judged on how well they solve the problem, their creativity, and their performance.

The following problem-solving rules are allowed:
  • The problem but be solved within the time limit. Any team going over the limit will either be cut off, or deducted points for however long they take.
  • The solution to the problem must be completely crafted by the students, and not by outside help. This is referred to as Interference and is strictly forbidden.
  • The solution to the problem must not cost more than 100 dollars. There are some strange rules for things such as musical instruments, time on stage, calculations for trash, or what not, but they all make sense in that you can't pour money on a problem to make it a winner. Everyone has to have access to what you used. Household materials, duct tape, and hot glue are the staples of this competition. Teams are penalized (heavily) for going over. (This does not apply to the balsa wood problems)
  • During the performance, each team is given an improve item to use during the performance. Working it in is part of thinking on your feet, and makes each performance unique and interesting (a t-shirt, a scrub brush, a rubber glove, etc).


Destination Imagination is very family-oriented, and is a lot of fun for those who participate. They have changed many of the terms and distinctions from their OM, but the spirit of learning, challenge, and competition are still intact. Usually the schools and local volunteers coordinate this effort.

It's a great program, and on a different beat that other national youth programs such as the Scouts or Junior Achievement. It encourages learning, and while riddled with puns, it is still a great time by all. I have had the pleasure of watching my girlfriend's brother go through this twice, at the NHOM competition, and it has been awesome both times. Days spent at those competitions have really helped to prove to me that creativity is never dead, and there is a new shade of imagination to be found. It's a refreshing sight indeed.

More information can be found at their website at:
http://www.destinationimagination.org/

NHOM's website can be found at
http://www.nhom.org

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