Destination Imagination

Update: Tournament Day Expectations

Posted: January 30, 2018 by Mr. Sparks

Since the DI Tournament experience is brand new for most of our team, I wanted to provide you a run-down of what you can expect on Tournament Day:

> I have requested a morning competition time for our team. My hope is that we will be on the very early end of the schedule (on or around 8am), so that we can catch the judges when their minds are fresh!

> Performance Order: There two phases of the competition. The presentation of their team challenge solution (which is open for parents and the public to watch) and the Instant Challenge (which happens behind closed doors with the team only). We will not know which phase we will complete first until the schedule is released, but we will plan to be prepared for either schedule.

> Schedule: The DI Region does not post the competition schedule until a week out from the tournament, which means I should know the set times for our team on February 10. As mentioned previously, I have requested early morning competition times, and the DI region typically honors those requests as best they can.

> Arrival: The team will plan to arrive in advance of competition time. This provides us time to finalize makeup, costumes and complete one final rehearsal of our team challenge presentation. Team members will also be solely responsible for the transportation of all props, materials and equipment into the school. As much as we have the urge to help, it is solely up to the kids on competition day! :)

> Post-Presentation: After we complete each phase of the competition, the team and I will meet together to discuss, celebrate and recap each of our performances for a short time, typically in a separate area of the school.

> Spectating: I encourage the kids to select at least 3 different teams/challenge presentations they want to go watch as a team at the tournament. This gives the kids to explore all of the different solution ideas other students have created, which also fuels lots of excitement and enthusiasm for next year! :)

> Lunch Time: Since this year's tournament is at Cedar Ridge High School, my plan is for the team to enjoy a special team lunch together at Outback Steakhouse at I-35 and Gattis School Rd. (near Hester's Crossing), which is approximately 3 miles from the high school. (Restaurant info can be found here.) I will be paying for the kids to enjoy some orders of cheese fries before their lunch (which I cannot cover unfortunately).

> Awards Ceremony: The awards presentation is typically around 5:30 or 6:00pm on Saturday evening. I would like our entire team to attend, if possible, so that we can cheer on our fellow competitors and also be present if we are so fortunate to be recognized.

> Other Details: At the tournament, there is a fun "Dime Store" for the kids that has all kinds of quirky, fun hats, tournament pins, etc., for the kids to purchase. The tournament will also have lots of food vendors, and I try to bring a special snack or two for the kids that day, as well. Since I am a DI Regional Board Member, I will be volunteering throughout the day at the tournament, so if any parents are available to help with the kids, that would be great. Please let me know if you are interested.

If you have any questions or need any other info about Tournament Day, please let me know. :)

Team Update - January 7, 2018

Posted: January 7, 2018 by Mr. Sparks

With the Regional Tournament only 6 weeks away, our team still has lots of building, painting, preparing and rehearsing to do, and I'd like to make sure the kids have more than enough time to complete their "to-do" list.

With that said, the following meeting dates are scheduled, per the original calendar sent to families back in September:

  • Tuesday, January 9
  • Thursday, January 11
  • Thursday, January 18
  • Monday, January 22
  • Thursday, January 25
  • Monday, January 29
  • Thursday, February 1
  • Monday, February 5
  • Thursday, February 8
  • Monday, February 12
  • Thursday, February 15
  • Friday, February 16
  • TOURNAMENT DAY: Saturday, February 17

I would like to add the following extra meeting dates to the calendar. The locations for these are not yet determined, as they may either be at school or off campus at a team member's home. I will let you know via email and the website once I have the location confirmed:

  • Friday, January 12
  • Tuesday, January 16
  • Friday, January 26
  • Tuesday, January 30
  • Tuesday, February 6
  • ***The week of February 12th is our final week before the tournament, so I will assess the need for extra meeting times during the week beforehand. I can likely make myself available every day after school that week, if necessary.

Team Update "What NOT To Do" - November 16, 2017

Posted: November 16, 2017 by Mr. Sparks

Our DI team is in the midst of lots of planning, creating, and rehearsing. I wanted to give you an updated calendar of upcoming events. Per the calendar I sent in September, there were some tentative dates set for shopping and workshops, and so you may notice some changes here that are a bit different from the initial calendar. If any of the kids are not able to make a shopping day or any of the extra work days, that is absolutely okay. So long as a group of us can meet on those dates, we can still be productive. :)

December 2nd, 3pm - Instant Challenge Workshop

Reagan Elementary School - 1700 E. Park St, Cedar Park, 78613

We will meet at Reagan at 2:30pm for check-in. For this workshop, the kids will learn various strategies and approaches to the Instant Challenge portion of their competition. They will also be given different types of challenges (such as performance, task-based, combined, communication, etc.), so that they can be exposed to the various possibilities they may seen in February at the tournament.

December 10th, 10:30am - Team Shopping

Home Depot - 2551 S Interstate 35, Round Rock, 78664

(The Home Depot is located on the northbound side of I-35 at the 45 toll road, just past Walmart.)

We will meet at Home Depot at 10:30. We are in need of someone with a vehicle large enough to transport large pieces of wood (approximately 6-8 feet long), who can also temporarily store them until the kids can begin constructing our backdrops, props, etc. If you are able to help, please let me know. We will likely move from Home Depot to Hobby Lobby, Michael's and/or Target afterwards since our shopping list will include craft materials. These are all located within 1 mile of each other at that intersection.

Holiday Gift Card Exchange & Movie/Pizza Party - To Be Announced

The kids talked today about having a holiday party. They asked about having a movie and pizza party at Laurel Mountain on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon before the holiday break. They would also like to have a gift card exchange on this day, as well. I have the following dates available - December 16, 17, 22 or 23. We will likely hold it at LME in my classroom from 3:30pm until 6:45pm on one of those dates. Please let me know if you have a date preference so we can schedule accordingly for all 7 team members to attend. :)

Thank you again for everything - we are well on our way to some exciting things with LME DI!

-Mr. Sparks

Team Update "What NOT To Do" - October 2, 2017

Posted: October 2, 2017 by Mr. Sparks

Week 3 of LMEDI has begun, and our team, "What NOT To Do", has lots of info to share!

  • The team was given an official copy of their team challenge today. It is CRUCIAL that everyone reads and re-reads their challenge in order to understand the scope and requirements of their activity. Because our team's success relies on completion of every requirement of the challenge, the students will soon be given a random quiz on the various details included in the team challenge packet. :)
  • More information regarding fundraisers is coming soon. We are awaiting word on district approval before we can proceed. Once I receive word, I will relay information to the students and we can proceed from there.
  • Thank you to families that have donated snacks for the kids to enjoy during team meetings after school. If you have not yet signed up to bring snacks, please do so by clicking here. Your kindness is very much appreciated! :)
  • ALERT! The Destination Imagination Regional Tournament is on Saturday, February 17th. Please note that this mandatory event is being held on President's Day weekend. The event is not being rescheduled, so please plan on having your child attend the tournament on Saturday, February 17th. If you anticipate a schedule conflict, please notify Mr. Sparks NOW so that we can make other arrangements for your child's participation.
  • Team Shopping for materials will occur on Saturday, October 28. We will meet at 9:00am at the Home Depot at 2551 S Interstate 35, Round Rock, Texas 78664 (I-35 and Toll Road 45/La Frontera area). From there, we will also visit Michael's and/or Hobby Lobby, and if necessary, Target, since they are all within 1 mile of one another. Please mark your calendars accordingly.
  • The Super Saturday Student Skills Workshop is on Saturday, November 11! This event is an opportunity for our team to participate in mini-skills workshops on skills necessary to solve our team challenge. Workshops that will be presented will cover topics such as costume design, dumpster diving, team building, technology integration, stage presence, set design, etc. As a team, we will select 4 topics to attend. This event will be held at Teravista Elementary School at 4419 Teravista Club Drive, Round Rock, TX 78665 (approximately 2.5 miles west of IKEA). We will meet outside the school at 8:30am for check-in. The workshop will begin at 9:00am and conclude at 12:15pm. Since Mr. Sparks will be presenting this day, a parent volunteer is needed to escort the team to the different workshop rotations. If you are interested in helping, please email Mr. Sparks by clicking here.
  • The Instant Challenge Workshop will be held on Saturday, December 2nd. The location is not yet known, however, it will likely be held at a Leander ISD school. This workshop will provide students exposure to competitive level instant challenge activities, and they will be given feedback from current/former appraisers. This practice, beyond our typical practice at team meetings, is crucial to our success in understanding the difficulty level of the challenges our team may be given at the Regional Tournament. We will attend from 3pm to 5pm on this day. As soon as a location is announced, it will be announced here.
  • A Fall Team Social will be held sometime in November. Mr. Sparks is currently working out the logistics and details for this. This will likely be either November 11 (after Super Saturday) or November 18, and will likely involve lunch and a trip to the movies. If you have a preference of day, please let me know.

Thanks again for everything! Please be in touch if anything comes up!

-Zach Sparks

Team Name, Challenge Chosen By LMEDI 4th/5th Grade Team

Posted: September 21, 2017 by Mr. Sparks

After an eventful second team meeting, several line items were discussed by the team!

  • We discussed several fundraising ideas, and our reasons for fundraising (to build funds for possible travel to the state/affiliate tournament and/or Global Finals, additional team activities, and to help support fellow RRISD Destination Imagination teams in need).
    • Possible Fundraising Ideas: Breakfast for Teachers (Breakfast Biscuits, Breakfast Tacos on Fridays to sell to faculty); a food stand at the Fall Carnival; an after-school lemonade/snack stand; a DI/Instant Challenge feature night.
    • Mr. Sparks will speak to Mrs. Richards and Mrs. Sapp about fundraising ideas and return to Monday's team meeting with more information.
  • Our community service project was also discussed. Students were shown the Generation Share (formerly known as Little Helping Hands) website ( and we reviewed the service project offerings.
    • The team decided on interests in helping a pet shelter; volunteering at Ronald McDonald House; and/or helping with a food bank-type service for the needy. Because Generation Share releases their October schedule on Tuesday, September 26, Mr. Sparks will sign up the team for a community service project for October. More information to come on this next week.
    • We also discussed wanting to volunteer during the holiday season for kids at Dell Children's Medical Hospital. Mr. Sparks will revisit this project idea later in October.
  • Silent Color Maze was the name of our practice instant challenge today. The students had to split up into two groups- one group had to nonverbally direct students in the other group on where to place colored place cards inside a square matrix. Be sure to ask your child about this fun (and popular) instant challenge! :)
  • Team names brainstormed from Monday's meeting were reviewed, and a team name was voted on and agreed upon by the entire team. This year's team will be WHAT NOT TO DO. :-)
  • The team challenge options were voted on again today from the final three options (decided on Monday). The team had to select the Fine Arts, Improvisational, or the Project Outreach challenge, and on a 5-3-0 vote, this year's team has selected the.............FINE ARTS CHALLENGE: Change of Tune. For information on this challenge, please watch the preview video here:

What's coming up next week:

    • Mr. Sparks will bring back more information regarding fundraisers and the October service project to Monday's team meeting.
    • The team will begin brainstorming ideas for their team challenge by creating an idea board.
    • Mr. Sparks will gather more information regarding a fellow buddy team we can pair with in Round Rock ISD, and announce that information at a team meeting.
    • Appreciation project ideas will be discussed for LME staff members that support our team.
    • More instant challenge practice- including a guest appraiser. (Who will it be???)

Thanks for a terrific and eventful first week! Can't wait for what's coming next!

-Mr. Sparks

LMEDI Day One in the Books!

Posted: September 18, 2017 by Mr. Sparks

Our first team meeting was quite the success! To recap, here's what happened today:

  • We introduced our team of 4th and 5th graders, and discussed exactly what Destination Imagination is!
  • We reviewed all 6 team challenge options:
    • Engineering: DROP ZONE
    • Fine Arts: CHANGE OF TUNE
    • Improv: TREASURE!
    • Project Outreach/Service Learning: INSIDE IMPACT
    • Technical: MAZE CRAZE
      • Video previews of all six challenge options for this season can be viewed by clicking here.
  • We discussed pros and cons of each challenge and conducted two rounds of voting. Our final three challenge choices are:
    • Fine Arts: CHANGE OF TUNE
    • Improv: TREASURE!
    • Project Outreach/Service Learning: INSIDE IMPACT
  • Final challenge voting will occur at Thursday's team meeting! (This is a change from my announcement at today's team meeting- will discuss with the team on Thursday.)
  • We brainstormed team name options - lots of fun, hilarious and nifty names. We will have preliminary team name voting on Thursday.
  • We briefly talked about our fundraising and community service projects today. We will discuss these in greater detail on Thursday. In the meantime, have your student begin thinking about fundraising options (possible ideas: food options, coin drives, an Instant Challenge/STEAM night fundraiser, etc.) so that they can bring ideas to Thursday's meeting. Our goal is to submit a fundraiser request by week's end to the front office!
  • We practiced an Instant Challenge today- the team used various items to build two props to present a skit about an animal. I definitely enjoyed the team's take on the "Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed"- hilariousness! We will also begin refining expectations for Instant Challenge on Thursday.
  • In the meantime, I will post a weekly "Mini-Instant Challenge" for your child to attempt at home. My goal is for your child to begin practicing skills that he/she can bring to our team meetings. Our first Mini-Instant Challenge is called Water Mover. Your child will need 2 cups of the same size, one filled approximately 1/2 with water, and a straw (preferably one that does not bend). With both hands behind the back and the straw placed on the table, your child is to pick up the straw not using hands and move as much of the water from the filled cup to the empty cup in 2 minutes. Looking forward to hearing all about strategies and possible solutions next Monday!
  • If you have not submitted payment for the Destination Imagination registration fee, please do so no later than Wednesday at 12noon.
  • I am excited to work with this fantastic group of learners, innovators, and creative problem solvers! As always, please email, call/text if you need anything at all. Be on the lookout for team meeting photos to appear on my Twitter account after Thursday's meeting. You can follow me at:!

Wishes for an outstanding week to everyone! :)

-Mr. S :)

LMEDI starts tomorrow (September 18th)!!

Posted: September 17, 2017 by Mr. Sparks

The 4th/5th grade LMEDI team will have their first team meeting tomorrow in my classroom. Students will be directed by their homeroom teachers to meet me in the gym after the dismissal bell rings. I will pick them up in the gym and bring them to my classroom.

A couple of reminders - please have your child bring a snack or two to enjoy tomorrow after school! Our team meetings will end at 4:30, and we will meet in the front of the school in the car rider area/office area shortly thereafter. Parents are always welcome to attend any of our after-school team meetings- let me know if you'd like to drop in to see what all we are doing! If you have any questions or need anything, please call/text me at the cell number provided to you in email.

Looking forward to day one of our adventure tomorrow! :)

-Mr. S

Announcement: We will have TWO LMEDI teams this year!

Posted: August 29, 2017

I am so EXCITED to announce that we will have two LMEDI teams this year! Along with our established competitive team of 4th and 5th grade students, we have been able to form a 1st/2nd grade Rising Stars (non-competitive) team to join us on our journey this year!

Miss Chelsea Skinner (4th Grade LME Teacher) and Mr. Sparks will co-lead the LMEDI-RS (LME Destination Imagination-Rising Stars) team!

As a result, Miss Skinner and Mr. Sparks would like to have a parent meeting (invite sent by email) with our Rising Stars parents this Friday (Sept. 1) at 3:45pm in Mr. Sparks's classroom. There, we will cover program expectations, schedule/calendar, team meeting days, parent responsibilities and provide information on the upcoming Kickoff Party (happening September 9th!).

We are glad to have you all on board this year- it will be fantastic! :)

LMEDI Summer Info

Posted: August 2, 2017

At the Bowling/Laser Tag Party on July 29, parents were provided a handout with a program overview as well as a tentative calendar. You can find an electronic copy by clicking on this link. Please note that the calendar is tentative, and a final calendar will be provided to students/parents in September.

Welcome to LMEDI (Laurel Mountain Destination Imagination) 2017-2018!

Posted: July 21, 2017

Welcome to another new year of Destination Imagination! I am VERY excited to be again serving as the DI Coordinator here at Laurel Mountain. I have previously coached a team, served as a volunteer, an appraiser at competitions, and most recently, a challenge writer. With another year coming up, I wanted to share some early news on the 2017-18 team!

For the 2017-18 school year, you can expect the following:

  • The 2017-18 LME Destination Imagination team will comprise of 4th and 5th graders, including returning team members from the 2016-17 year.
  • Team meetings will be twice a week, starting the week of September 18, 2017, on Mondays and Thursdays (with a few exceptions) until 4:30 after school in Mr. Sparks' classroom.
  • The LME DI Season Kickoff Party is scheduled for Saturday, September 9th from 10:30am to 12:30pm. This will include activities for students, their parents and/or their siblings! Stay tuned for more information coming via email.
  • We will have two fall fundraiser activities to assist in building funds for possible future competitions, as well as to assist our fellow DI teams in Round Rock ISD.
  • We will participate in a team community service project throughout the fall.
  • Some Saturday team meetings, including participation in student workshops (such as "Super Saturday"), supply shopping days, and challenge preparation will be planned.
  • You can begin reviewing the 2017-18 DI Challenge Overviews by clicking here!

Please feel free to email Mr. Sparks at if you have any questions or need further information! Enjoy your summer!

(Updated on July 21, 2017)


10111 D-K Ranch Road

Austin, Texas 78759

Office: 512.464.4300