POLAND — One of three Destination Imagination teams, sponsored by the Poland Parks and Recreation Department, took first place at the Maine State Destination Imagination Celebration, held at the University of Maine in Orono on Saturday, March 18.

Destination Imagination is a creative problem-solving program where teams of students work together over the course of five months to solve a chosen challenge based in the arts, science, math, technology, improvisation or community outreach. 

This program has been an outlet for children of all abilities to learn and have an opportunity to shine, as well as learn how to work as a team to solve a problem. 

This program teaches children important life skills, such as keeping an open mind, learning to take risks, creative problem-solving, persistence, teamwork, and leadership.

The learning includes speaking, presenting, writing, math, science, technology, improvisation, researching, creative arts, and community service, depending on challenges the students choose. This learning aligns with national goals and state standards and incorporates STEM learning.

The Poland Recreation Elementary Level team that took first place in their challenge now have the opportunity to travel to Tennessee in May to represent Maine, as they compete at the Global Finals with more than 50,000 other children from all over the world.


The team, The Monster Gaggers, was made up of seven students from three different schools: Elm Street School students Bella Ricard, Benny Ricard, Marabella Coltart, and Isaac McKellick; Minot Consolidated School students Mackenzie McQuaid and Kayden Pursley; and Poland Community School student Ada Stenhouse.

The students were coached by Genevieve Ricard, the team manager for the Monster Gaggers and the District Coordinator for Destination Imagination through Poland Recreation. 

The Monster Gaggers’ challenge, titled “Top Secret,” involved researching steganography and cryptography and developing two secret coding methods to be presented in a story where they solve a mystery, with a disguised character and a working secret mechanical gadget.

Their solution to this problem was presented using DNA coding and a team-made rail-fence transposed-substitution cipher. In their story, a monster who was tired of being ugly went on a quest to become beautiful. After talking to his father, the flower queen, and others, learning about how DNA works, the monster figures out that he is beautiful just he way he is.

The team will need to raise $12,000 in two months in order to represent its region of Maine in the global competition in Tennessee, in May. Several events are being planned to help with this fundraising.

A bottle drive will be held Saturday, April 8, at Elm Street School in Mechanic falls, and a Community Lunch Fundraiser and auction, from 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 7, at the American Legion in Mechanic Falls.

Donations may be sent to Poland Recreation Department, Re: Destination Imagination, 1231 Main St., Poland, ME 04274.

FMI: www.youcaring.com/getmetotennessee.


Destination Imagination team members, from left, Isaac, Benny, Ada, Mackenzie, Bella, Marabella and Kayden are ready to perform their award winning solution.

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