A group of Hayden elementary students can't speak. They try to direct fifth-grader Lanette Lehman which color marker to pick up by pointing to colors on their clothes and shoes, nodding when she picks up the correct color.
The children jump and smile when they complete the task. They had to create a way to tell Lehman which markers to pick up and in what order without speaking. But when they thought they were done, they had to do it again, using a different means of communication.
The children get a minute or so to come up with a method. When they begin round two, they choose to use their limbs to symbolize the first letter of each color.
The students were practicing in the Hayden Valley Elementary School cafeteria for Destination ImagiNation, a creativity-building and problem-solving program that 47 states participate in each year.
Three Hayden teams -- one from the middle school and two from the elementary school -- have been practicing multiple brain-bending exercises for months in preparation for a regional competition April 3 in Rifle. If they do well, they will go to the state competition April 24 at the University of Denver.
Several events will be timed and require improvisation, such as communicating without talking. The students practiced with a "vegetables coming to a party" scenario in which they knocked on an imaginary door and performed their best impressions of their favorite fresh produce.
They also tried "people in Hayden coming to a party." Most tried imitating their teachers or even their parents. Everyone on the team knew Hannah Meade was mimicking her mother and team manager, Sandy Meade, when she said, "Clean you room and go to bed." The team was quick to guess Jake Rosendale was pretending to be Hayden police Officer Gordon Booco when he broke down an imaginary door and yelled, "Freeze!"
Part of the challenge of Destination ImagiNation is that teams cannot receive help from team managers, parents or teachers in solving the problems presented.
"It's an interesting dynamic," elementary team manager Susan Koehler said. "They have to do it all on their own, and they always come up with a way to do it."
The middle school team, consisting of Noah Murray, Mitchell VeDepo, Jeremy Engle, Zachary Engle, Ashleigh Muhme, Tyra Monger, Leila Rinker and team manager Julie Smith, is preparing for a problem-solving performance called "Cartoons in Dimensions."
One of the elementary teams, consisting of Rosendale, Meade, Cassidy Bush, Delanie VeDepo, Taylor Bridges, Josephine Adanski, Kayla Dunckley and team managers Pat Rosendale and Sandy Meade, also is performing Cartoons in Dimensions.
Like all Destination ImagiNation events, Cartoons in Dimensions requires students to demonstrate their creativity on several levels. The teams must create original cartoon characters and present a story about their adventures. They must have a visual and sound effect in their presentation, and the visual effect must involve a two-dimensional object turning into a three-dimensional object.
The elementary school team, is using a "cootie catcher" for its 2D-to-3D transformation, Jake Rosendale said.
The other elementary team, consisting of Lindsay Parrot, Brian Hoza, Lanette Lehman, Erin Koehler, Abby Engle, Ryan Fralick, Meghan Jezo and team managers Medora Fralick and Susan Koehler, is practicing for a similar presentation called "The Plot and the Pendulum."
The team will memorize lines for the story. They perform the small play first, and then a second time. On the second presentation, a pendulum or "plot diverter" that they built, swings and changes the plot at one point, causing a different outcome.
All the competitions are based on the creativity of the students. Having a story that could swing in two directions is the goal for this competition.
In preparation, the team painted a cardboard school bus for their play about a camping trip.
For information on the Destination ImagiNation program, call Director Michelle Hoza at 276-1736.