Eli and Noah are both in a program called DestiNation ImagiNation. They are in different groups since they are different ages. It is a "sciency" kind of thing and it is really interesting. You have to be invited by the teachers heading it up in our schools to be on a team.
They start in second grade at our school and Noah was invited right off; Eli had not been. I went the parent meeting and thought it seemed up Eli's alley. I talked to the teachers in charge and they agreed it would be good for Eli too-but had to see if they had enough for an additional fourth grade team. And of course, I would have to be the parent leader.
They found enough children (teams are 3-7 students), all boys no less, and I became the Team Manager. It was not the most administratively organized group I have been a part of, which is very frustrating as a Team Manager, but other than that, it was a pretty good experience. The boys all loved it and I got to really see Eli come out of his shell.
There were instant challenges to practice as well as a central challenge to pick and plan and develop over the course of four months. Then to take the central challenge to the tournament to present before the appraisers (judges) to be scored.
Noah's group, as second graders, were in the non-competitive category since the parents were allowed to help on a limited basis. Eli's group had to sign a declaration of independence to say that they had no interference from outsiders, including parents, since they were in the competitive category. It is very difficult to not interfere at all when a group of children is working towards a goal and the path they are taking won't get them there. But it allows them to learn. And you to be creative in how to ask questions that get them thinking of different angles.
Second graders all perform a play, and unfortunately, I did not get to see Noah perform his as I was with Eli's group checking in their structure at the exact same time. I am tracking down the video though. I practiced Noah's script with him and am so excited to see how it all came together. I was told they did very well.
Eli's group built a structure that had to hold weight and had restrictions on materials, height, and weight. They did a great job and learned so much. It turned out that they placed third in their age group for that challenge. At the awards ceremony they collected bronze metals for themselves and a third place trophy for the school's trophy case. Eli's team had a member drop out so they ended up with only three boys, but did wonderfully.
Only the team manager can go in with the team for the tournament instant challenge, so I did not get to see Noah's group complete theirs. Their manager said they did well and the children were happy with how they did.
I did get to go in with Eli's group, and they didn't talk it out as much as I would have liked, but somehow, their finished product was funny, lighthearted, and worked wonderfully. They definitely have learned to play off of each others strengths.
It was an adventure for this Mama. I had prep work for Eli's group before each meeting, and since I couldn't lead Noah's group I helped to gather materials for them to ease the burden on their manager and stayed at practice as much as I could. I took Jesse with me to Eli's weekly practices and I think he learned a lot too. Simon went with me to a couple of Noah's practices and got to participate as a member, which was great for him. I made friends with some more moms and Eli made friends with some more boys, which is not easy for either of us, but weekly meetings for four months will do that! I have learned that Eli loves to act and is a good support team member, but hangs back from leading. I have learned that Noah needs lots of affirmation (don't we all?).
It was great for me and all of my boys, however with DI on different days after school, Noah's basketball, church on Wednesdays, working on taxes, and Tim's surgery, I'm glad it's done and we can just play outside more!