James Madison University DI Takes On the Mini Maker Faire

By: Tina Shaffer

Last month, our JMU Destination Imagination (JMU DI) club traveled to Charlottesville, VA to participate in the inaugural Charlottesville Mini Maker Faire. The Mini Maker Faire is an amazing event that brings inventors, tinkerers, artists, crafters, brewers, DIYers, and creative problem solvers together to showcase their innovative creations. At our booth, we had showed a presentation on the Destination Imagination Challenge program explaining what the program is and all of the great opportunities available to anyone and everyone who participates. We even brought some fun DI memorabilia, such as our pin collections, t-shirts, and Global Finals trophies and medals that JMU DI has received in recent years. Everyone who stopped by our booth also had the opportunity to participate in an Instant Challenge. The Instant Challenge we hosted had participants working together to build a free-standing structure that was as high as possible, while being able to support a golf ball, softball or both. Participants were given only newspaper, two sticky labels, a softball and a golf ball.

The event was a huge success! A huge crowd of people visited our booth throughout the day, including seasoned DI veterans as well as people who had never heard of Destination Imagination. Some parents and educators were interested in how they could bring DI into their schools. Others just wanted to try out our Instant Challenge! It was truly a family affair with brothers taking on sisters, parents taking on their kids (and each other), and a few grandparents showing off their expertise too. We saw so many creative solutions throughout the day. The winning “structure” topped out at over 2 feet and held both the softball and golf ball!

The Mini Maker Faire was a fantastic new avenue for us to get out and spread the word of Destination Imagination in the local area. As with previous years, the JMU DI club will host Instant Challenge Workshops to help interested kids learn more about the creative problem solving process and prep regional teams for 2014 competitions. Because we love Destination Imagination so much, we’re always looking for ways to spread the word about how amazing the program is!

At JMU, Destination Imagination students participate in a class and a club. The students learn and practice techniques of creative problem solving and team communications within the context of a class entitled “Advanced Communication and Creative Problem Solving in Multidisciplinary Teams” offered through Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT 280), Engineering (ENGR 280) and Speech Communications (SCOM 318).  JMU DI students come from the full range of JMU academic programs including Physics, Computer Science, ISAT, Engineering and Industrial Design to Theater & Dance, IDLS, Philosophy & Religion, Pre-Law, Music, and Justice Studies with participation at all academic levels from freshmen to seniors.

Authors: Christy Meier (JMU DIer), Jonathan Spindel (JMU DI Manager/Instructor), Elizabeth Armstrong (JMU DI Manager/Instructor), Elise Barrella (JMU Faculty)