School News

Big Wins at Destination Imagination State Competition

Maharishi School sent eleven teams to the Destination Imagination State competition on Saturday, March 28, and returned with five State Champion teams to represent Iowa at Global Finals in May.

Jeremy Goodale, Blake Jarmosco, Jayanta Wegman, Jack Unger, and Devrishi Eisner

An international non-profit, volunteer organization, Destination Imagination aims to be the global leader in teaching the creative process from imagination to innovation and to “develop opportunities that inspire the global community of learners to utilize diverse approaches in applying 21st Century Skills and creativity.” The program encourages teams of students to have fun, take risks, focus, and frame challenges while incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the arts, and service learning. Participants learn patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem solving process.

Students from kindergarten through university level participate. Each team has an adult team manager, but the adults cannot give any feedback or suggestions about solving the team challenge. Teams compete in one of seven challenges. After months spent creating and developing their solutions, they present at sub-state and state tournaments. They also compete in a 10 minute “instant challenge.” Top-scoring teams advance to Global Finals, the world’s largest celebration of creativity with over 16,000 students competing from around the world.

Maharishi School Destination Imagination program director Mark Wilkins commented on the school’s continuing success: “At Maharishi School we have a rich history of success at creative problem solving competitions. The five state champion teams from Maharishi School will be one third of the total teams representing Iowa at Global Finals.”

Two Lower School boys’ teams (4th-5th graders) won 1st Place in their category:

  • Scientific challenge managed by Keith Wegman and Michael Eisner: (4th Grade) Devrishi Eisner, Jayanta Wegman, Jeremy Goodale, Blake Jarmosco, Jack Unger (This team was one of two school teams who received Special Recognition for their Instant Challenge performance. Only four Special Recognition awards were presented for the tournament.)

Gabriel Dieter, Gavin Biancalana, Noah McNamara, and Mekhi Kahid; Chacho Roesler (lower)

  • Structural engineering challenge managed by Kerri Biancalana: (5th Grade) Gavin Biancalana, Gabriel Dieter, Noah McNamara, Mekhi Kahid, Chacho Roesler

Describing the Instant Challenge performance, the 4th graders, winners of the Instant Challenge, elementary level, said that each team is given a challenge to build something out of provided materials. There is a limited time to find and create a solution, and their team was the only one successful. The boys said they have to talk among themselves, come up with many ideas, and then decide which one will work. Team member Jayanta Wegman said, “The first ideas you come up with are the ones others will use. The third idea is usually a new one.”

Three Upper School teams won 1st Place:

  • Improvisational challenge coached by Mark Wilkins: Jordan Town, Nathaniel Zhu, Marcus Schoenfeld, Caleb Mullenneaux, and Tomas Bousquet

Upper School Improv Team


  • Fine Arts challenge coached by Suzannah Schindler: Anna Unger, Loreena Hansen, Amie Saine, Lydia (Hanya Liu), Riley (Haiyang Jiang)

Riley (Haiyang Jiang) and  Lydia (Hanya Liu), Fine Arts Challenge Team

  • Structural engineering challenge coached by Catrione Faircrest: Bella Unger, Cecilia Faircrest, Ivan Liu, Rain (Wang Yuning), Karan Chodankar, Frank (Li Wang), Brandon Ragogna

Cecilia Faircrest, Karan Chodankar, and Bella Unger

Also one Upper School team received Special Recognition for Instant Challenge at the high school level (and finished in 2nd Place):

  • Alista Wikle, Jivani Rodriguez, Madelyn Stood, and Amanda Valentine

Upper School Instant Challenge Special Recognition

“The upper school teams are a combination of students experienced in DI and those who have never done DI,” said Wilkins. Six of the 15 participants from the upper school are boarding students, 5 from China and one from Dubai. Language can be a little bit of an issue from time to time, but one of the goals of DI is to learn to work together as a team, no matter what the diversity, using everyone's strengths to solve a challenge. So the teams that do well work it out, no matter what the challenge or team dynamics. Language is no more of an issue than the diverse personalities that might be on a team.”

In addition to the Instant Challenge successes, Maharishi School teams had the following placings:

  • 5          1st Place
  • 3          2nd Place 
  • 2          4th Place
  • 1          9th Place

Teams have to have solved the challenge, demonstrating excellent creativity and teamwork, to win the state competition. However, at the level of Global Finals, every team is a State Champion, so the level of competition takes a giant step up. Our teams will be re-thinking every part of their solution and looking for ways to improve all aspects of it in order to be ready for Global Finals.

Your chance to see these outstanding projects will be Saturday, May 16th, at the DI Showcase. “I highly recommend coming to the DI Showcase,” says Wilkins, “and seeing for yourself what our students have come up with.”

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