Destination Imagination Students Build Water Station for Local Residents

Destination Imagination team, the DI Dynamites, work with residents at Community First! Village in Austin, Texas, to build a water station.

When students on the Destination Imagination (DI) team, the DI Dynamites, were looking to give back to their community in Austin, Texas, they ended up finding a mission that became near and dear to their hearts.

In the summer of 2022, they stumbled upon Community First! Village (CF!V)–a 51-acre community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for people coming out of chronic homelessness. The small homes at CF!V do not have plumbing and residents share public bathhouses for water and laundry. 

To ensure residents–especially those with disabilities or mobility challenges–don’t have to travel as far for water, the Destination Imagination team members set out to build a water station. As a team that competes in Destination Imagination’s Engineering Challenge, their creativity and engineering skills came in quite handy. 

“It might be considered uncommon for an engineering team to pursue a service learning project, but if it doesn’t say you can’t, you can!” said team member, Grace Jiang.

From fundraising to sponsorships, the students quickly sprung into action to gain support from their community and local businesses. The team received building tools from local construction companies, plumbing expertise from local plumbing businesses, and a generous discount from Lowe’s. 

The project took them approximately five months to complete, and the team spent more than 90 hours in nine days on the job site in order to complete the building process.

“We were only able to build on weekends because of school,” said team member Edward Xin. “Time management is one thing we learned over our Destination Imagination years. You have to look at your calendar before you start to work.”

Photo on left: Gracie Jiang, the DI Dynamites team leader, uses a wrench to connect pipes in the water station. 
Photo on right: The team installs plumbing with help from local plumbers.

Like many projects in life, building the water station was not without challenges.

“We had slip-ups here and there, such as when we filled one of our cinder blocks with concrete too soon,” said Grace Jiang. “We ended up having to knock the cinder blocks out and replace them entirely. That didn’t stop us, though. The best attempt isn’t always the first, and that’s okay.” 

Photo on left: The cement foundation is laid. 
Photo on right: Wood is added as a soft touch to the water station and creates an place for residents to fill up buckets.

The team also persevered through late deliveries, bad weather conditions, missing power tools, and people backing out of their project.

“There were moments we thought we would not meet our February deadline,” said team member Lizzie Hooks. “The stress is real!”

Through planning, designing and building their water station, the students had the opportunity to grow a wide range of life and career skills, including public speaking, problem-solving, and project management.

“Destination Imagination isn’t one-dimensional,” said Lizzie Hooks. “It brings us the whole survival package that will help us navigate life in all aspects possible.”

Photo on left: Water flows from the faucet.
Photo on right: The water station is complete .

In February 2023, the students completed the water station, which residents can now use for a variety of purposes, including washing hands and running a garden hose. However, the students say the community needs nine more.

“Please join us to build more water stations,” says Chloe Jiang. “You can help us with fundraising, spreading the word, providing power tools, or just joining us when we build the next one!”

To learn more or to make a donation, you can contact the DI Dynamites on Instagram @didynamitesxcommunity