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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Destination Imagination®, or “DI”?

25 word answer:

Destination Imagination is a creative problem-solving program that teaches kids theatrical and technical skills, independence, leadership, cooperation/teamwork, organization, sportsmanship, brainstorming, and is fun!

30 word answer:

Destination Imagination (DI) is an educational program in which student teams solve open-ended Challenges and present their solutions at a Tournament. DI is designed to teach three essential skills: creativity, teamwork and problem solving.

60-word response:

Destination Imagination is a creative problem-solving program for students. They work on predetermined challenges. They work in teams and think up all the ideas and do all of the work themselves with a non-participatory adult team manager. The students learn teamwork, innovation, solving problems on a budget, presentation skills, and conflict resolution. Teams perform their solutions at a local/state tournament.

84-word response:

The Destination Imagination School Program promotes divergent thinking and develops creative problem-solving skills in students from kindergarten through college. This program offers students at every level - a unique opportunity to participate in challenging and motivating activities both inside and outside of their regular classroom curriculum. Under the guidance of an adult team manager, students learn to work with others as a team. They develop self-confidence by creating solutions, evaluating ideas and making decisions. They develop their creative skills through problem solving and independent thinking.

108 word response:

Destination Imagination is a community-based, school-friendly program that builds participants’ creativity, problem solving, and teamwork in enjoyable and meaningful ways. The goals of Destination Imagination are to:
  • Foster creative and critical thinking among all participants 
  • Learn and apply Creative Problem Solving method and tools 
  • Develop teamwork, collaboration, and leadership skills 
  • Nurture research and inquiry skills, involving both creative exploration and attention to detail 
  • Enhance and apply written and verbal communication and presentation skills (both impromptu and sustained) 
  • Promote the recognition, use, and development of many and varied strengths and talents 
  • Encourage competence in, enthusiasm for, and commitment to real-life problem solving 

140-word answer:

Destination Imagination is about teaching children how to work together on teams, to tap into their creativity, and to find innovative and unique solutions to complex and difficult Challenges.  At the same time “DI” helps students learn the art and skill of thinking on their feet, using what they have and improvising the rest, and being creative problem solvers. When it is presented well, it empowers students and teaches them that no challenge is too big, too hard or too complex to be solved.  The process that teams go through to solve the Destination Imagination Challenges truly can change their lives.  Most of our kids never use the words "I can't" after they have solved a Destination Imagination Challenge.... more often they are heard saying "Let me have a look - I think I can ....." or "Let me try..."

150-word answer:

Destination Imagination (DI) is an educational program in which student teams solve open-ended Challenges and present their solutions at a Tournament. DI is designed to teach three essential skills: creativity, teamwork and problem solving.

DI participants are tested to think on their feet, work as a team and devise original solutions that satisfy the requirements of the Challenges. DI participants gain more than just basic knowledge and skills—they learn to unleash their Imaginations and take unique approaches to problem solving.

Destination Imagination Facts:
  • Across the U.S. and in 30+ countries, Destination Imagination has 100,000 participants annually, supported by more than 38,000 volunteers.
  • Destination Imagination is a great after-school and extracurricular program aligned with national education standards.
  • Destination Imagination is the largest Creative Problem Solving (CPS) program in the world.
  • Destination Imagination teaches kids 21st-century skills through Challenges that foster creative and critical thinking. 

256-word answer:

Destination Imagination is a creative problem-solving program that benefits children from the age of 5 through college. We are non-profit and volunteer run. We're active all over the U.S. and in many countries around the world.

The heart of our program is the Challenges. Destination Imagination produces 7 Challenges every year (an open-ended problem with a set of rules).  There is one Challenge especially for kindergarten age children (Rising Stars!).

The students start working on one of the Challenges in the early fall/winter and present their solution at a local Tournament in late winter/early spring. Each year we have Challenges that focus on technical skills, such as creating an obstacle course for eggs or a roller coaster for tennis balls, or theatrical/improvisation skills, such as creating an elaborate skit about visiting another country. There is more than one solution to a Challenge.

The program is kid-driven and team powered. Teams of up to seven students work with an adult Team Manager to solve the Challenge they have chosen. The students, not the adults, plan, research and execute their solution to the Challenge - they write scripts, compose music, build structures, engineer technical devices, fashion costumes, paint backdrops, make props and choreograph their performance. Then they sell their solution to a panel of Appraisers at the Tournament.

In the process, students learn teamwork, negotiation and compromise. The team members struggle with personalities, deadlines, rules, outside pressures, money constraints and peer pressure. This teaches strategic life skills. Colleges and employers look for the students that have developed these skills.

What Does Creative Problem Solving (CPS) Really Mean?

Creative problem solving (CPS) involves combining brainstorming, creative thinking, critical thinking, and implementation of the ideas generated. If someone can’t think of an example of creative problem solving, suggest that the Apollo 13 astronauts are alive because of creative problem solving. At one point, they needed a round filter to fit in the slot for a square one. The engineers on earth had to creatively solve the challenge using only the items that the astronauts had available to them. This was truly the case of CPS saving lives!

What are the parts of Destination Imagination?

The Destination Imagination program asks teams to creatively solve two different kinds of Challenges, each with its own purpose and educational focus. The two Challenges, or components, are called the Team Challenge (Central Challenge and Team Choice Elements) and the Instant Challenge. Teams present their solutions to both Challenges at a Tournament where the solutions are evaluated by friendly people we call “Appraisers.”

For the more exacting answer, here is some more specific info from the Program Guide:

Team Central Challenge

  • Purpose: Encourages development of Creative Problem Solving techniques, teamwork, and creative process over a long period of time (usually several months).
  • Educational Focus of Central Challenge: The project undertaken by the team is curriculum-based and focused on one or more of the following areas: Theatrical/Literary/Fine Arts Elements, Technical/Mechanical Design, Structural Design, Improvisational Techniques, Community Service.
  • Each of the six Central Challenges involves a research component.
  • One or more of the six Challenges involves an international and/or intercultural theme.

Team Choice Elements

  • Purpose: Encourages participants to discover and showcase their collective interests, strengths, and abilities as a team and as individuals, and allows them to develop that showcase over a long period of time.
  • Educational Focus of Team Choice Elements: Based on the educational theory of multiple intelligences, which in part emphasizes allowing participants to find their own best ways to present what they have learned.
  • Allows teams total freedom to develop elements of their own choosing and to highlight areas of strength that are not brought forth in the Central Challenge requirements.
  • Allows/Encourages teams to recognize and make the most of each individual’s abilities/interests.

Instant Challenge

The Destination Imagination Instant Challenge is a Challenge teams are asked to solve in a very short period of time at their Tournament, without knowing ahead of time what the Challenge will be.
  • Purpose: To put team’s creative problem solving abilities, creativity, and teamwork to the test in a short, time-driven Challenge.
  • Educational Focus of Instant Challenge: The team’s use of creative problem solving strategies, assessment and use of available materials, and teamwork under tight time constraints.
  • Encourages teams to develop creative problem solving and time management strategies, performance and improvisational techniques.
  • Develops the ability to quickly assess the properties of provided materials, and learn how to creatively manipulate materials for a unique solution.

What are the goals of Destination Imagination?

UNOFFICIAL GOAL: The goal of Destination Imagination is to help children learn that through a combination of creativity, teamwork & tenacity, that they can develop creative solutions to complex problems completely on their own.

How do I Start the Program?

If you are looking for school support, approach the school administration or get a teacher excited about the program. That could help free up official school sponsorship status and/or funds. However, know that any community organization (or an individual) can start a Destination Imagination team. Often schools provide educational, facilities and financial support to teams – giving teachers time to help Destination Imagination teams or manage a team themselves, space for teams to meet at the school, or financial support by purchasing memberships, giving teams money or helping teams that advance to state/global finals.

Where Can I Go to Get Information About the Program?

Contact Us!

How Do We Join and Get Started?

Who Pays for This?

Your school, PTA, gifted program, YMCA, 4H club, house of worship, homeschool group, after-school program, community organization, your family – it all depends on whose name the membership is in.

How Much Does It Cost?

How Do I Fund It?

Is it Expensive for the Amount of Kids Involved?

For a competitive team of seven, the registration costs per student is comparable or less than other youth activities (e.g. sports teams, lessons, scouting, etc). The exact registration cost varies by geographic region, and by type of team (Competitive or K-2 Rising Stars!).  To determine your region and learn about current registration cost and procedures see NYDI Regions.

If your team is being registered through a school or other sponsoring organization, the organization may manage the registration process.   Some organizations may cover the full cost of registration - while others may add additional fees to cover local costs, etc.

Beyond the registration fees, each Challenge has a maximum allowed cost which applies to the materials which make it onto the performance stage. This limited budget leads to teams being very creative in finding free or inexpensive materials.

If teams advance from the regional tournament to the NY affiliate finals there will be additional costs for travel to the tournament (depending upon the teams home location and the location of the tournament). And if the team advances to Global Finals (held in Knoxville, TN), there are registration/housing fees and transportation costs.

Teams find their funding in a variety of ways:
  • Schools or sponsoring organizations may give teams money to use; and/or they may donate space for the team to use.

  • Teams may ask each team member to pay a certain amount of money up front to fund projects; team members may be asked for more money if they change their solution several times and more resources are necessary.

  • Teams may fund-raise to get the money they need. Some schools may cooperate with fundraising.

  • Items may be purchased at regular stores, at discount stores, at secondhand stores, Goodwill, or they may be found in dumpsters, the attic, closets or the basement. All used items (other than "free" items such as newspaper and cardboard) must be assessed a fair-market garage sale price, no matter the source, even if they have been donated.

  • For snacks, many teams ask either parents to alternate bringing snacks; or everyone brings snacks at the beginning and then they are stored and used as necessary; or a snack fund may be started and one or more adults buy snacks each meeting.

How is This Different Than Other Programs Available to Our Kids?

While any child would be lucky to participate in most programs of this type, Destination Imagination is a non-profit, volunteer-run, child-centric organization. Every aspect of the program, by design, is extremely responsive to the membership, and most important, to the students in our programs. We maintain communities to share our best practices, as well as globally collaborating on areas of improvement. The result is a very child-friendly program that rewards teams, within the rules, for their creativity, teamwork and innovation. Our success is reflected in the Destination Imagination Alumni group, or DIA. The growing numbers of our alumni in DIA maintain year-round contact at collegiate and professional levels for years to come, and are instrumental volunteers in the program at all levels.

What Does It Take To Form A Team?

Kids often discover hidden talents they didn’t know they had! Any eligible student can be on a Destination Imagination team, provided that he or she understands the commitment of time and effort involved, and can fulfill the eligibility requirements for students who wish to participate in cocurricular activities. Each team can have a maximum of seven students. At least one parent, teacher, or dedicated adult supporter must act as the team manager. The team manager helps the students stay on schedule, gathers materials for the team, and guides them through the problem-solving process. Time commitment is about 2 to 4 hours each week, gradually increasing as tournament time approaches.

How Often Do Teams Meet?

What is the Time Commitment Involved?

Team meetings are usually 2 hours per week for most teams. Meetings can be after school, in the evening, or during the weekend. Meeting times are determined by availability of team manager and/or team members. Some teams want to increase their meeting time in February in order to accomplish the Central Challenge according to their expectations. Thus, there is a possibility of multiple weekly meetings as Tournament approaches. That decision is one the Team Manager & the Team members make.

The season runs from team formation in the fall to the Regional Tournament, usually in March. Tournament day is usually an all-day commitment for teams.

First and second place teams at the Regional level will advance to the Affiliate Tournament (usually in April).  On an annual basis Destination Imagination, Inc. determines how many teams from the Affiliate Tournament can advance to Global Finals, held at the end of May in Knoxville, Tennessee.

What are Team Managers?

Being a Team Manager is a fun and rewarding way to spend time with great kids! The Team Manager is an adult facilitator, administrator, and supporter of the team. You may consider sharing the responsibility with another parent. Support & training will be provided, and first timers are welcome! Team Manager Information Nights and Trainings are available. More information is available at About Team Managers