A group of Thurston Middle School students has reached the state tournament of a competition that tests their creativity and problem-solving skills.
The Lightning Dragons built a structure using only glue, wood and fishing line to withstand pressure from two sources as part of Destination Imagination, a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire and equip students to be innovators and leaders.
This was the first year the Laguna Beach school has participated in the program. The Dragons finished eighth out of 10 teams at the March state tournament, but eighth-grade science teacher Ina Inouye, co-leader of the group, commended the team's feat in its first year.
Nineteen Thurston students participated in the regional tournament, the precursor to the state tournament, in certain challenges focusing on technical, scientific, structural and fine-arts disciplines.
Another Thurston team, Avila's Army Scientific, researched an extreme environment and presented a story that illustrated the need to adapt in this environment.
Two other Thurston teams, the Burrito Racers and the Royal Kiwis, participated in a challenge that required students to prepare a five-minute skit that incorporated three improvisational elements.
Inouye, with co-advisor Bjorn Avila, also a Thurston science teacher, introduced the program this year as an opportunity for students to learn through complex challenges and create solutions through teamwork and creativity, integrating cross-curricular subjects.
"Destination Imagination has been a wonderful addition to our campus," Thurston Principal Jenny Salberg said in a news release. "[Avila and Inouye] have created an environment that challenges interested students in excelling in 21st century learning that includes a focus on critical thinking and communication."