Congrats To Our Global Finals 2019 Special Award-Winning Teams!

Congrats To Our Global Finals 2019 Special Award-Winning Teams!

In addition to scoring a team’s Challenge solution at Global Finals, Appraisers award teams and/or team members in a variety of areas including outstanding design and engineering, creativity, spirit, teamwork, risk-taking, and those who go above and beyond to make an extraordinary impact beyond a local community. This year, our Appraisers gave special awards, including the Renaissance, Da Vinci, Torchbearer and Spirit of Discovery & Imagination Awards, to 34 outstanding teams at Global Finals 2019.

Award Descriptions:


On our journey, we sometimes encounter exceptional travelers who entertain and enlighten us along the way. The Renaissance Award recognizes those among us who demonstrate extraordinary amounts of effort and preparation in their solutions or outstanding skill in engineering, design or performance. While the destination is creativity, these fellow travelers make the journey itself memorable.


The paths we follow on our journeys were once uncharted and unknown – until someone took a bold step in a new direction and paved a way for us to follow. To solve our Challenges, imagination, creativity, originality and courage are required. We honor those individuals and teams who most clearly demonstrate that spirit of adventurous risk in their solutions – those who most creatively traveled to reach truly new and unique destinations. The DaVinci Award is named to honor one of humanity’s greatest creative thinkers, Leonardo Da Vinci.


This award honors teams and/or individuals whose solutions have an extraordinary impact in and beyond their local communities.


This award is given in recognition of those who act as superior role models in the areas of spirit, teamwork, sportsmanship or volunteerism.

Congratulations to the following teams:

Team: 135-76201 (Ohio, Howland ISD)
Challenge: Escape Artists (SL)
Award: Torchbearer – This team forced us to confront uncomfortable topics throughout their Presentation and left an everlasting impression.

This team forced the Appraisal Team to confront uncomfortable topics from the beginning to the end of their skit. The team’s Presentation made us feel like we were immersed in the life of the family members who were exposed to the domestic violence that so many people experience daily. The team took the real-life experience of a team member and decided to talk in public about the shame, violence and fear of domestic violence. The poem that was cited by the victim left an everlasting impression in our minds. The courage that the victim found to escape the situation was present in the Presentation, while the skit provided the team a space to educate others about domestic violence and how to escape.


Team: 119-79032 (Massachusetts, Nashoba DI)
Challenge: Monster Effects (SL)
Award: Renaissance – For incredible, artistic and intricately detailed animals were brought to life by the pulling of strings.

This team created amazingly detailed frog, peacock and snake puppets whose movements were controlled by a team member through a series of lines and pulleys. The movements were accurately coordinated by sounds and voiceovers to create an incredible visual effect.


Team: 147-54092 (Washington, Mercer Island High School)
Challenge:  Monster Effects (SL)
Award: Renaissance – This team presented a whale of a tale with a passionate message: “Together, we can change that!”

This team created a Presentation based on pollution and climate change. The team’s prop effects were truly outstanding and culminated in a “trash” explosion out of a giant blue whale’s blowhole. The team’s massive props and costumes were all intricately detailed and well-coordinated. The team ended their dynamic performance with a deeply passionate speech about how “Together, we can change that!” which brought a few tears of pride to the team members and audience.


Team: 135-81882 (Ohio, Howland LSD)
Challenge: Escape Artists (EL)
Award: DaVinci – This team presented a graceful approach to dealing with sad truth that not all stories have a happy ending.

Courage takes many forms, but one of the rarer forms involves dealing with sad truths in a room full of smiling people. This team brought multiple talents and an impressive work ethic to bear into their Presentation, which acknowledged the reality of failure when we prefer a happy ending. Their whole story was set against a backdrop of grace and beauty. We were too awed to weep.


Team: 185-51048 (China, SHNU Demonstration ES)
Challenge: On Target (EL)
Award: Renaissance – This team honored traditional Chinese art through unfolding fans that represented the search for beauty in the world.

Using multiple traditional Chinese art styles, this team constructed and painted four intricate giant fans that started out closed and mechanically unfurled as the team journeyed to find pieces of beauty in the world. Using a small motor, the fans unfolded, unveiling beautiful representations of five regions of the world. These regions ranged from the snowy tops of the frigid mountains to the scorching hot African savanna and from a lush, expansive prairie to a small, rustic village. The final fan turned itself around to reveal that beauty and courage were within them all along.


Team: 119-38086 (Massachusetts, Challenge Me, Inc.)
Challenge: On Target (ML)
Award: Spirit of Discovery & Imagination – This team showed cohesion from start to end, helping a nervous teammate and trusting one another in Instant Challenge.

This award is given for supportive and honest teamwork. This team had an obvious special bond the moment they walked in the room. A team member was shaking with nerves and one of his teammates helped calm him down with a short breathing exercise. It was apparent that they cared about each other’s wellbeing in such a tense environment. They went through their Instant Challenge with ease and genuine teamwork, never questioning each other along the way. They had a choice to make when they finished but still had time left in the Challenge. One team member told the team that they had successfully solved the Challenge. Without missing a beat, the rest of the team, with an unspoken connection, called time. It was a rare and beautiful sight to see such honest and authentic cooperation and cohesion on a team in Instant Challenge. It was clear they weren’t just a team – they were a family.


Team: 750-98213 (Texas, Independent)
Challenge: Escape Artists (ML)
Award: Renaissance – On a multi-level platform, two bugs acrobatically flipped pieces of their set while trying to escape from an evil ant.

This team created a buzz among the Appraisers and left them breathless from the intricacy of their solution. They used 600 individually braided straws and other recyclable materials to create a reversible costume that allowed the actor to switch between his “good” bee side and “evil” ant side. The team also used recyclable materials to create a pair of jeans out of melted plastic knives. Then, dressed in their elaborate costumes, two of the three team members spent less than 45 seconds of their Presentation on the ground; they spent the rest of their time acrobatically climbing across their multi-level set, twisting and turning the pieces into a log, tree, waterfall, flower pots, mushroom, sunflower, spiderweb and other elements of an insect garden.


Team: 169-25507 (Turkey, Emine Ornek Schools)
Challenge: Heads Up (EL)
Award: Renaissance – This team was extraordinarily thoughtful in crafting a masterful, moving and poetic skit, including a Greek chorus.

This team, despite their youth, presented a skit that masterfully transported us across the ages. From a full Greek tragedy chorus speaking in unison to a Charlie Chaplin-inspired slapstick comedy routine, they pushed the emotional and technical limits of Improv, which left the Appraisers moved. Using highly poetic language, precise movement, extensive research, and impressive showmanship, this team embodied the depths of the comedy and tragedy genres to craft a truly artful and unforgettable performance.


Team: 122-50264 (Michigan, Michigan STEAM Organization)
Challenge: Monster Effects (SL)
Award: Spirit of Discovery & Imagination

Even though they lived hours apart, this team created an unforgettable Presentation involving donut-inspired engineering. The team created a donut monster that, upon triggering, appeared in an explosion of lights and donuts. The team also created a functioning waterwheel that ushered donuts down a pool and made coffee.

The team was able to accomplish this while living over two hours apart! They communicated through Skype and video chat to confirm details of their props and technical elements. They built, assembled, shipped and confirmed their details all before coming together at tournaments. Despite these challenges, their props were amazingly uniform and functioned perfectly together. This was made all the more memorable, as team members were former competitors who met at a previous Global Finals tournament. One member was losing her team and was invited to join the others.

This was truly one of the most memorable performances seen by the Appraisers.


Team: 120-24787 (Maryland, CC Accokeek)
Challenge: Escape Artists (ML)
Award: DaVinci – The captivating caffeinated astronauts in need of air freshener and oxygen left the audience gasping for breath.

This team had the Appraisers and audience blasting off with laughter. While exploring the universe, a coffee-addicted spaceship captain accidentally poured his coffee on the electronics system, causing the oxygen in the ship to shut off, and startling the Appraisers with his embellished acting. With oxygen levels quickly depleting, the crew was sent into a silly stupor from cerebral hypoxia and delivered a comical poem. The Appraisers were left on the edge of their seats wondering if the crew would survive. Spoiler alert: They did–and so did some of the captain’s spilled coffee. This animated and energetic skit delivered jokes and lines with perfect timing entertaining both the Appraisers and the audience.


Team: 185-17358 (China, Chongqing TianTaiGang ES)
Challenge: Medical Mystery (EL)
Award: Renaissance – This team created a wearable abstract art backdrop that changed into a representation of the human character’s face.

The team created a three piece, cape-style, double-sided backdrop worn by team members. When spread out, it showed an abstract art mural. At times during the Presentation, the backdrop was folded and showed a representation of the human character’s face from portions of the original abstract art. The effect was dramatic and showed the transition between scenes without explicit mention. The art was incredibly detailed and well executed.


Team: 148-90306 (Wisconsin, Lake Geneva Schools – Badger)
Challenge: On Target (SL)
Award: Renaissance – A scary collection of history, technology and stagecraft led the crowd through an adventure in this team’s haunted library.

This team took their audience on a unique trip through a haunted library. To create this effect, the team built a possessed bookshelf filled to the brim with 319 individual books, including titles that reflected their past experiences in DI. With the clues delivered by their Aircraft, the team discovered titles on the shelf that unleashed several scary surprises. This team kept the audience entertained while reinvigorating a passion for the local library.


Team: 148-77198 (Wisconsin, Sevastopol School)
Challenge: Monster Effects (EL)
Award: Renaissance – When the ghost of a lumberjack gets stuck in a tree, the only thing to do is split it open.

The Ultimate Lumberjacks astounded the Appraisal Team when they rolled a tree that was six feet tall and ten feet wide into the Launch Area. The tree was constructed using chicken wire, paper mache, and real tree branches. Because the tree housed the ghost of a lumberjack, the tree was constructed with an intricately designed face equipped with eyes that glowed red when the Special Effect was triggered. To announce the freeing of the ghostly lumberjack, the top of the tree split open through the use of levers, pulleys, and K*Nex. When the tree split open, a balloon was automatically popped, confetti flew, and the tree’s eyes turned on. The team engineered the prop so that when the balloon burst, the spring-loaded arms released and unleashed the monster hidden within its trunk.  The engineering that was utilized to allow the tree to split open was impressive in its straightforward design and produced a dramatic effect.


Team: 114-87177 (Illinois, Walden – DPS 109)
Challenge: Escape Artists (EL)
Award: Renaissance – This team created an intricately timed high paced Presentation through a multi-faceted prop.

The team that falls into a fantasy world isn’t all that unusual, but the team that drags the Appraisers in with them – that’s another matter. Time was short, and they didn’t waste a second, telling a compelling story replete with hydraulics, chemistry, optics, pulleys, elevators and combination locks, wrapped up in a Swiss Army box. They [almost] blinded us with [applied] science!


Team: 750-41012 (Texas, Katy ISD / Griffin Elementary)
Challenge: Game On (EL)
Award: DaVinci – Even without speaking, this team had incredible communication during their Instant Challenge.

This team impressed us by doing their entire Instant Challenge without speaking. This let their nonverbal communication skills and incredible teamwork shine.


Team: 169-07941 (Turkey, EYUBOGLU SCHOOLS)
Challenge: Monster Effects (EL)
Award: DaVinci – Mirrors do not show who a person is. In a dramatic and moving story, this team showed us how to see ourselves.

The Appraisal Team was moved to tears by this creative, moving and enlightening performance. A young woman was given picture messages telling her she was terrible and no one liked her. As she looked in the mirror, the “monster,” which represented her darkest fear about herself, appeared. Through a mirrored dance between the girl and her reflection, she was pulled into the other side of the mirror. She was able to see more images, and through a custom-written song, she came to realize her worth was in her actions, not in the reflection of her face.


Team: 106-83099 (Colorado, Monarch PK-8)
Challenge: Medical Mystery (ML)
Award: Renaissance – Stellar teamwork created a folded paper tower with interlocking joints-it was a simple and elegant Instant Challenge.

Stellar teamwork created a tower using sheets of paper with folds creating interlocking joints. It was simple, elegant and one-of-a-kind. Outstanding engineering technique.


Team: 115-00895 (Indiana, Hamilton Southeastern)
Challenge: On Target (SL)
Award: DaVinci – Floating a unique approach, the team kept us on track by dropping all conventional methods & landing a unique solution.

Ironically, this team featured Da Vinci’s daughter on her adventure to meet Mother Nature.

Out of the tons of technical solutions possible, this team struck out to wow the audience with basic physics. The simple aircraft of balsa wood, paper and Ping-Pong balls achieved Flight by floating above pressurized nitrogen. The controlled Flight of the Aircraft led to a team drop mechanism triggered by a dual switch system. The switches first stored nitrogen and then released it in a quick burst to spill the tea (bag Payload). The team included a vented backstop to the air burst to ensure the Payload was not swept back by the residual flow, but dropped directly down the paper release of the Aircraft. Congratulations on a beautiful solution.


Team: 142-95491 (Tennessee, Franklin Classical School)
Challenge: Escape Artists (SL)
Award: Spirit of Discovery & Imagination – By using skills learned in DI, this team created a safe space using Megaman and Cardi B to allow the children to thrive.

This team used all the elements of the Pop Up Early Learning Challenge to tell their story of becoming Rising Stars Team Managers for children from economically diverse families in their local area. They showcased the true meaning of Destination Imagination in both their Project and overall solution.

They faced the challenges of transiency of some families, as well as the children’s own doubts and fears about their abilities, but were relentless in providing a space for these children to grow in their creativity and imagination.

Team: 135-97530 (Ohio, Miamisburg City Schools)
Challenge: Escape Artists (SL)
Award: DaVinci – This team used innovative and engaging mechanisms to take us on an exciting escape from addiction.

The team’s solution literally built suspense in high-energy continuous synaptic action that kept us alert, oriented and addicted to their story. Their life-sized pop-up brain took us through various addictive states to which the brain can succumb and how to escape them. The escape mechanisms were just as innovative, engaging and energetic.


Team: 147-72992 (Washington, Kirkland Independent DI)
Challenge: Medical Mystery (SL)
Award: Renaissance – An elaborate transitioning set and a towering animatronic baby had the Appraisers and the audience enthralled.

This impressive two-person team crafted a Presentation the Appraisers won’t soon forget. Their scenery was composed of 60 tiles working together as a cohesive scene that transitioned and flipped in a chain reaction sequence to reveal a new scene. As impressive as this set was, it wasn’t the only award worthy element this duo presented. An enormous baby towered over the stage and was as big as it was terrifying. As impactful as the baby was from the outside, its inner workings were seamless, complex and elegant. It utilized a single power source to operate a cam lobe. This allowed the baby to come to life in a myriad of ways and gave Appraisers a Double Vision into the main character’s body. The audience was enthralled and when the baby’s jaw dropped, so did ours.


Team: 750-59032 (Texas, Garland McMeans Jr. High)
Challenge: Medical Mystery (ML)
Award: Renaissance – This team’s a really big dill and *THRILLERED* us with their giant, snot-bubble blowing head. Fantastic performance. MIC DROP!

From the moment they rolled the scenery out until TIME, this team’s theatricality and wit kept us in awe and on the floor laughing. Every aspect of their Presentation was polished and seamless. They educated us about picklelytes, a form of dancing plague, while making us laugh. They created a solution that hit every checkbox and so many more. They threw pickle puns left and right and *THRILLERED* us with their giant, snot-bubble blowing head. We all felt that we would pay to see this performance! They’re kind of a big dill. MIC DROP!


Team: 106-01768 (Colorado, Slavens K-8 School)
Challenge: Monster Effects (ML)
Award: Renaissance – The clock was ticking, alarms were sounding, and hearts were beating to this team’s escape room Presentation.

Crafted completely by hand, with four intricately designed gears and a moving pendulum complete with both weights and counter weights, this team’s hand-made grandfather clock not only increased the tension of the room but drew the entire audience into the team’s intense, high-energy and dramatic escape. This team’s Special Effect highlighted not only their outstanding execution and understanding of the Challenge, but their skill in engineering and design. With their frantic performance, this team’s superb acting ability left the audience on the edge of their seats as they escaped from a room of their own design. For these reasons, we award this Renaissance Award to the Zippy Zappy Zany Zealous Zoggles, from the Slavens K-8 School.


Team: 147-19848 (Washington, Stemz)
Challenge: Monster Effects (ML)
Award: Renaissance – This team integrated dazzling colors, towering 3-D scenery and a musical cacophony of design in their Presentation.

This team’s musical solution to the Engineering Challenge was simple- build a working Music Machine! Not to be out-done, their equally impressive three-dimensional, 10-foot-tall, hand-drawn and detailed backdrop elements enhanced the team’s overall performance. The energy in their Presentation drew both the Appraisal Team and the audience into their solution. It should come as no surprise that the D. Inventors from Washington should earn this Renaissance Award for their impressive design, outstanding engineering and exceptional performance skills.


Team: 120-27025 (Maryland, Wicomico County Public Schools)
Challenge: Medical Mystery (EL)
Award: Renaissance – This award was given for outstanding design and execution of a team-built hydraulic pump and scissor lift.

The Mustache Mustangs raised the bar, and their Sympt-O-Matic projector screen, with a team-built scissor lift and hydraulic pump. The human character climbed into the device, which was raised with the hydraulics to enclose the patient and create a screen to project their Symptoms and help tease out their Diagnosis. The team went through several iterations of their creation, improving on previous design issues and striving to make a better, more reliable device. The final product worked so well we were amazed to find out it was completely hand-built. The team used their design and construction talents to make an iterative design really stand out.


Team: 105-16888 (California, South Pasadena)
Challenge: On Target (EL)
Award: DaVinci – This team created a self-directed Payload that was beyond our imagination!

Out of all the potential solutions to the Payload delivery, a self-directed Payload was beyond our imagination! This team took a risk and designed a Payload that stayed within the bounds of the rules but innovated in a way that we had not seen. The dropped Payload continued to travel after hitting the floor, laying a ribbon as it moved across the site and increasing opportunities for higher scores. This uncommon solution pushed design boundaries!


Team: 105-21322 (California, Redlands Thinktank)
Challenge: Game On (EL)
Award: DaVinci – The team amazed with life-sized germy chess pieces that battled the flu, making for a chess game like we’d never seen!

No one likes to get the flu – yuck!  But what if you had to fight off life-sized germs? This team played a game of chess in which cold medicine and flu-fighter were pitted against runny nose and high fever. Each chess piece represented a different germ in a humorous and colorful design. It is hard to believe that a “runny nose” chess piece could be beautiful!

This team built the life-sized pieces out of chicken wire and paper mache, making a giant chess game. The entry into the nightmare started with a sneeze that lit up the game board with green LED lights – another yuck!

Yet… an amazing Game to watch. Their solution was so creative and wowed our Appraisal Team.


Team: 750-48366 (Texas, Rosemont EL)
Challenge: Game On (EL)
Award: Renaissance – This team showed us a Game of Life via the Day of the Dead in an incredibly well-executed and artistic production.

Sometimes life can take you to surprising places and this team took us to a destination with verve, poetry, and a lesson on what makes a well-lived life. Who knew that the Game of Life could be played via Dia de los Muertos? A simple container transformed before our eyes into a multi-layered, glittering set filled with color, musicians, and art. Every team member had a part in the tale, popping out in unexpected places in full costume and character. The world was filled with spirits, rhymes, traditions, humor, and wisdom. The winner in their Game of Life (Dia de los Muertos Edition) was not the one that lived for wealth, but the one that followed his heart.


Team: 106-76376 (Colorado, Wray School District RD-2)
Challenge: Medical Mystery (ML)
Award: Renaissance – This elevated performance exploded with pus and goo which made us earth shatteringly enthusiastic! Eww!

You would never have guessed from the Launch Area that a team member would be elevated 3-stories by a modular transforming system of pulleys that was used for the whole Presentation! Acting as a representation of the human anatomy, this elevator was infected by the nefarious guinea worm. This all ended with an explosion of pus and blood as the worm was ejected from the elevator in an explosive feature. DI-sgusting. Period.


Team: 115-05924 (Indiana, Hamilton Southeastern)
Challenge: On Target (ML)
Award: Renaissance – This team presented an innovative and revealing solution that literally restored color to a fading Earth.

When color disappeared from a rotating Earth, we were brought through a cave that released creative clues, including puzzles and a team-created instrument, which allowed our heroes to find the levitating jewel. This team’s cohesive Presentation integrated automated set, props and payloads to move us through the story. Their ecological solution literally restored color to a fading Earth.


Team: 137-93108 (Oregon, West Linn DI)
Challenge: Game On (SL)
Award: DaVinci – This team showed true ingenuity and risk-taking in the engineering of their well-articulated dragon and 14-ft tall set.

When you see a fully articulated dragon and a 14-foot tall set that begins in a single container, you know you’re about to be swept away into a magical adventure. These team members focused on the game of Mahjong with characters portrayed as players and their missing dragon tile. But wait! There’s more! As their dragon tile embarked on a quest to find a place to belong, he encountered pieces from Chess, Operation and Uno. Their team-built music app enhanced the transition of the set as their Container transformed from one game into the next. This Presentation was truly awe-inspiring and swept us away just as surely as their giant articulated hand swept the game pieces out from under the couch.


Team: 185-63418 (China, Shanghai YongChang Private School)
Challenge: On Target (ML)
Award: DaVinci – This team created a uniquely designed Aircraft which could be vertically suspended with ducted steering controls.

This team created a vertical Aircraft that was suspended on two independent propellers. They came up with a unique method to steer the Aircraft around the Presentation Area using a pair of servo-driven flaps that recycled and guided the lifting thrust. It was an incredibly stable, elegant, efficient, and precise design. In addition, the team designed a servo-driven plunger that let them release Payloads with a magnetic or mechanical attachment.


Team: 145-54888 (Virginia, Luther Jackson Middle School)
Challenge: Game On (ML)
Award: Renaissance – This team delivered a performance that questioned the morality of violence in entertainment through the Gladiator Games.

This team transported the audience to the Gladiator Games of Ancient Rome to ponder the moral questions of violence in entertainment. From the moment this team opened their pop-up book Container, everyone was drawn to the pages of their story. This “book” brought to life a myriad of scenes depicting everything from a Roman marketplace to the Colosseum using multiple fold-out panels. Several flat pieces inside the book were assembled into a functioning, 3-D catapult that destroyed the jail walls, ending this journey of abduction to freedom. Completing this Roman saga was a gladiator costume constructed of hundreds of aluminum soda can tabs. As the Container and the story continued to unfold before our eyes, the team combined their acting with scenes worthy of a great Roman epic.


Team: 105-45341 (California, STEM Cells)
Challenge: Game On (ML)
Award: Renaissance – This team brought to life the effects of gambling addiction with a dazzling technical display and giant brain prop.

From the moment their enormous simulated brain and face props appeared on the stage, this team showed the Appraisers just how innovative (and big) their brains are. Demonstrating exceptional attention to detail, they used elements of mechanical engineering, physics, hydraulics, computer science, electrical and structural engineering to create a functional slot machine and giant face and brain to illustrate the effects of gambling addiction. The slot machine Game Gizmo transformed twice during the performance from an entirely mechanical machine with gears and chains to a fully-modern electronic system with multi-colored LED lights and magnets to control the stopping of the wheels. The large-scale face and brain not only showed emotion, but also physically demonstrated the long-term effects of gambling addiction including red eyes, the rush of dopamine simulated with hydraulics, and LEDs used to simulate the firing of neuro-processors.


To view the Global Finals 2019 tournament results, click here