By Jason Wesseldyk
KANSAS CITY—Team members, coaches and parents from the Bubble Buddies—a Destination Imagination team from Alamo Elementary School in Otsego—were starting to get nervous.
The team had finished competing in the Global Finals in Kansas City and were now at the Closing Ceremony, watching as results were revealed.
The Bubble Buddies had selected the Fine Arts Challenge—called Tricky Tales—and the teams that placed 10th through fourth in that category had been revealed. Then the third-place team was announced, and the Otsego contingent still hadn’t heard their name.
“We began to worry if we’d even made it in the top 10,” said team co-manager Terry Webber.
Then second-place was announced … and the Bubble Buddies could finally celebrate, having secured the runner-up slot.
“The whole team and their family members began to scream,” Webber said. “We were so excited. It has been a dream of mine to one day have a team that made it up on the Global Finals stage.
“The only thing missing was my co-team manager, Jamie Siegler, who stayed home this year after having her daughter just two weeks before competition.”
A total of 38 teams competed in the elementary school division for the Fine Arts Challenge. Thirteen states were represented, as were Brazil and Ecuador.
This marked the first time since 2019 that Destination Imagination—a global competition focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) that focuses on creativity in problem solving—has held its Global Finals. The previous two were cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
The Global Finals began on Saturday, May 21, and wrapped up on Tuesday, May 24.
In addition to the competition itself, the Bubble Buddies members—Melody Begeman, Jack DeBoer, Kyla Haak, Rowan Ingold and Cain Kortlandt—enjoyed the overall experience of the Global Finals, particularly one activity.
“The team really loved pin trading,” Webber said. “It gave them the opportunity to meet kids from all over the USA and several other countries. They remarked on the kindness of a group of Seniors who talked to them late one night when the pin trading room was nearly empty and how they were willing to trade with them.”
According to Webber, the camaraderie between the various teams was evident from the start.
“Every team there is on the same page,” she said. “They all want to put their best foot forward and give a great performance challenge for the appraisers.
“Michigan teams and affiliate representatives are super supportive. They use a special pin incentive to encourage Michigan teams to come watch other Michigan teams.”
After arriving in Kansas City, the Bubble Buddies spent much of their Sunday reassembling props for their performance after those props had to be dismantled for travel purposes.
On Monday, the team performed both of its challenges: the Central Challenge and the Instant Challenge.
The Central Challenge is one for which students have been preparing throughout the school year and an Instant Challenge is one teams receive at the event and must work together to solve on the spot. Students are aware of potential Instant Challenges, but don’t know which one they’ll be asked to complete until the competition.
Having both challenges on the same day was a switch from past years when the challenges took place on two different days.
“In the past, teams would go to what we called a chill-out room where they could talk about how they did,” Webber said. “This year there, was not a spot to go to discuss their solution and it was hard to not talk about it. The team members just gave parents a thumbs up when they came out.”