You have your team pak, you may or may not have your team formed but you find yourself asking:
What is everyone talking about when they say ‘structure’ or ‘Challenge A’ or ‘Improv?’ What challenge should we pick? What's the difference between them all?
To start, lets break down the DI Challenges for this year. You have probably looked at the bullet points of interest, but I find that it is helpful to look at the scoring breakdown to help you understand where the main focus of each challenge is. Keep reading to see my high level breakdown of the 6 DI competitive Challenges and the non-competitive Rising Stars Challenge for DI's youngest members (K-2nd grade).
Challenge A: Assembly Required
Known as the ‘Technical’ challenge, Challenge A focuses on engineering and technical design.
Challege A always requires the kids to design and build something- TECHNICAL. This year they will be designing and building equipment to retrieve parts and deliver products that can hold at least one team member (just to give you an idea that this means something on a large scale).
At a high level if your team chooses this challenge you will be required to:
• Design and build Equipment that retrieves Parts and delivers Products.
• Assemble Products from team-provided Parts to Orders, and use the Products in your team’s Presentation.
• Earn extra points by deciding how best to Orders with no Parts or Products left over in the Assembly Area.
• Present a team-created story about something that happens just in time.
In Challenge A, it is important to realize that the majority of the points that a team will receive at the tournament revolves around the TECHNICAL element and the tasks that the team needs to complete as outlined in the challenge. If you look at the scoring breakdown for Challenge A out of a possible 240 points for your central challenge, there are only a possible 30 points for the story- the rest of the points are focused on the product, equipment, and success in completing the required orders.
What this means for you as a TM: If you have a team of kids who are excited about building something technical and they want to put their time and energy into working on a their products and their equipment, this challenge is the one for you. If you have a team of kids whose focus is on acting and who want to spend all their time on the story portion making costumes, etc. perhaps this is not the challenge you want to focus on.
Challenge B: The Solar Stage
Challenge B is the ‘Scientific’ challenge or may unofficially be called the ‘hybrid’ challenge as it includes some sort of a scientific or technical focus as well as a theatrical/performance focus.
Challenge B is designed for those kids who really like science and love to do research who can spend time learning and researching something, and then will integrate their findings into their performance. This year ‘The Solar Stage’ is focused on solar energy.
Those teams chosing Challenge B will have to:
• Create and present a theatrical performance that tells a Story about the use of solar energy.
• Integrate research about past and/or current uses of solar energy.
• Design and create a Solar Energy Prototype that demonstrates a new way to collect, capture and use solar energy.
• Design and provide Theatrical Lighting to be used to illuminate the Presentation and to create special theatrical effects.
Looking at the scoring for Challenge B, roughly 1/3 of the points are focused on the story, roughly 1/3 on the a prototype for solar energy, and roughly 1/3 on theatrical lighting (more of the ‘technical’ focus. See the breakdown below which is found on Page 6 of The Solar Stage):
Challenge B is a great challenge choice for teams that are split between those who are ‘technical’ and want to BUILD stuff but who also want to PERFORM. This is the best of both worlds giving kids the opportunity to focus on a little bit of everything including a major research component.
Challenge C: Coming Attractions!
Challenge C is known as the ‘Theater’ or ‘Performance’ challenge. This is the challenge for those kids who love to PERFORM.
While teams oftentimes are asked to incorporate something ‘technical’ into their solution (this year through a cinematic special effect) the main focus is on the performance itself.
This year’s Challenge C teams will:
• Present a Movie Trailer involving characters from at least two Nations.
• Design a Cinematic Special Effect and feature it in the Movie Trailer.
• Create an Original Soundtrack that complements the Movie Trailer.
If you look at the scoring, over 50% of the Central Challenge score is on the performance aspects of a team’s solution, 17% including the incorporation of original music, and the remainder a cinematic special effect (the 'technical' element)
TMs, Challenge C is all about the costumes, the sets, and the PERFORMANCE! If your kids love to be in the spotlight, are musically inclined and love to focus on their sets and backdrops to enhance the performance, then this is the challenge for you!
Challenge D: News to Me!
Challenge D is all about the Improvisation and the Acting Skills! This is a unique challenge that is quite unlike the rest of them, but those who love it wouldn't choose anything else!
Kids that choose Challenge D will:
• Learn about different types of News Stories.
• Learn about Cause and Effect relationships.
• Practice techniques for Cooperative Human Scenery and Props and use Cooperative Human Scenery and Props to enhance your Skit.
• Create a 5-minute Improvisational Skit about the Cause-and-Effect relationship between two unrelated News Stories.
• Have all your plans suddenly become totally discombobulated by a
• One-Minute Glitch (OMG)!
The Scoring Breakdown for this Challenge focuses on all of the above points of interest and all scores are given based on the performance that the appraisers see on stage at the tournament!
This Challenge is perfect for those kids who love to perform but who don't want to "waste time" on things like cumbersome backdrops or intricate costumes. The lead up to the tournament is spent conducting research, team building, and practicing performances and scenarios. Leave the power tools and sewing machines behind for this one- they won't be needed!
Challenge E: Hold It!
'Structure' as it is called for short is all about the tiny little wooden thing that you will see kids stacking metal weights on top of at the tournament- the 'structure'. Architectural Engineering and Design is the focus, and this year there is a technical element thrown in to add another DImension.
Challenge E Teams will:
- Design, build and test a Structure made entirely out of wood and glue to hold weight and contain Tournemnt-provided golf balls.
- Design and build a Delivery Device that will deposit the golf balls, one at a time, into the Structure
- Create and present an original story about a 'Capivator'
- Integrate the Weight Placement and Golf Ball Delivery into the Story
As you can see, 58% of the points for Challenge E come from the Weight Held Ratio (aka 'the Structure'), 17% on the Golf Ball Delivery Device (a Technical Element), and only 25% from the Story.
Those teams who choose this challenge should have one or more team members who are excited and dedicated to building and testing structures throughout the DI season, at least one person who is excited to work on building a Delivery Device (this can be simple or super technical) and some folks who want to work on the story. Keep in mind that over 50% of a team's score for this challenge is determined based on how the structure performs on tournament day. If a team doesn't have at least one member who is excited and willing to focus on the Structure, they should perhaps choose a different challenge.
Project Outreach: The World Canvas
Project Outreach is DI's Service Learning Challenge that is unique in that it lets team focus on things in their community and use Creative Problem Solving Tools to help them come up with a solution. This Challenge involves working within your community throughout the season on your chosen project, and presenting your solution at tournament based on the things that you have completed within your community! Teams may choose to create their project from scratch or continue an existing Project within the community that was started by the team or by another group.
Project Outreach Teams Will:
- Use creative problem solving tools to identify and select at least one real community need
- Design and carry out a Project to address the need.
- Create an Advertisement and use it in your Project.
- Create a Marketing Brochure to describe your Project.
- Share your Project at the Tournament with an entertaining live presentation.
Project Outreach teams will be scored on their their Project as a whole, including the Advertisements and Marketing Brochures they prepare, their Presentation at the Tournament, and the Impact their project is having within the community.
This is a great challenge for those kids who have a passion for Community Service/Service Learning projects and are looking for a way to incorporate DI practically into their communities.
Rising Stars: Built to Last
The Rising Stars! Challenge is DI's non-competitive challenge designed for young children kindergarten through grade 2. The idea is to expose kids to DI and help them to start learning creativity, teamwork and problem solving at an early age so they are ready to dive into the competitive program when they get older. Like the other Challenges, Rising Stars teams will present their solutions at tournament, but unlike the competitive teams, they will not receive scores for their solutions, rather they will be given feedback and praise for their solutions.
Team's Solving Build to Last Will:
- Learn about toys and how they have changed over time.
- Create a play about making the best toy that will ever be made. Explore how your team works together to make decisions about your team created toy.
I hope that this helps give you a better idea about each of the challenges and the focuses of them. If you already have your team perhaps this will help you as a TM understand where the kids should be focusing their energies. If you haven't picked a challenge yet, perhaps this will help you facilitate a discussion with the kids to help them decide which challenge they want to do.
Thank YOU for volunteering to be a TM and remember that we are here to support you every step of the way! Send your questions or comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org - don't be shy- I'd love to hear from you!