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Rosemount DI teams go global

If energy and enthusiasm are enough to guarantee good finishes, two teams of Rosemount students should bring home some big trophies later this month.

Starting May 21 Destination ImagiNation teams from Rosemount MIddle School and Red Pine Elementary School will compete in the DI Global Finals at the University of Tennessee.

The RMS team finished second in its category at the April 19 state finals. The Red Pine team finished third.

Talking about their projects the students practically bounce around the room. They speak over each other and finish each other's sentences.

Describing DI to people who aren't familiar with the academic competition is a little bit like trying to hold a calm and orderly conversation with one of the teams competing. You can do it, but it's not going to be easy. The competition has several categories, most of which ask students to work some kind of project into an eight-minute skit.

The RMS team, which calls itself LAAph EtAAK -- an acronym that includes each student's initials -- competed in the DI've Got a Secret category. In their skit the students play rubber ducks floating in a tub who try to identify a noise coming from the drain. Students had to incorporate an optical illusion and a set piece in which three props combine to make something new. In this case, an oversized yo-yo, a loofah and a towel hook combine to make a fishing pole.

The students perform their skit in a wooden bathtub complete with a faucet that spits out rice dyed blue to look like water. They said the idea for the skit was a group effort.

"We just kind of spitballed ideas and we came up with the idea of rubber ducks," said team member Alexa Hanson.

The Red Pine team, which called itself Crazy Cows after a stuffed animal one team member owns, competed in a category called Switch. They had to build a structure weighing 22 grams or less capable of holding as much weight as possible. Then they had to incorporate the weighing-down of the structure into a skit. For the Red Pine students -- three fourth graders, a third grader and a fifth grader, all of whom live in the same neighborhood -- the skit involved a product called the Mix 'n' Masher that magically turns two terrible cooks into master chefs.

There are parent and teacher coaches for each team but adults are encouraged to let students figure things out on their own.

"It's hard to do sometimes, but the kids have done a really great job," said Scott Haisting, one of the coaches of the Red Pine team.

This is just the third year for the DI program at Red Pine and its the first time a team from the school has qualified for the Global Finals.

To earn their way the students had to do well at a regional competition in early March and at the state tournament March 19 at Chaska High School.

Competing at state was nerve wracking at times, the students said. But they got a lot out of watching other teams compete and seeing what they came up with.

There were other benefits, too.

"For me, it was bonding with eighth grade girls," said Alec Dohm, the only sixth grader and the only boy on the RMS team.

All of the students say they're looking forward to meeting the other teams at the global competition.

"It think it's going to be fun to see what other people are working on around the world," said RMS student Karlie Drinen.

Between now and the time they face teams from 16 other countries later this month both teams plan to fine-tune their performances, sets and costumes. They'll also spend a lot of time raising money to pay for the trip.

There is a $4,000 entry fee for the global competition.

The RMS team will hold a raffle, a car wash and bake sales and they're holding a hat day in which RMS students can pay for the privilege of wearing a hat at school.

Red Pine students will hold their own hat day. They also plan to hold a benefit concert May 17 at the Rosemount American Legion.

Anyone interested in contributing to the Red Pine team can send a check to Red Pine Elementary School, 530 Red Pine Lane, Eagan, MN 55123.