Education feature: James Bickley teams take top spot in problem-solving competition

Courtesy photo Two James Bickley Elementary School Destination ImagiNation teams won first place in their division, both led by Gifted and Talented teacher Carol Littlejohn, far left.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

For the third consecutive year, James Bickley Elementary School’s Destination ImagiNation teams took first place at a state tournament held in Albuquerque Saturday.

Carol Littlejohn, the Gifted and Talented teacher for James Bickley and Ranchvale elementary schools, said the two sixth grade teams now have an opportunity to enter the global competition in Knoxville, Tenn. The global contest is May 26-29.

Destination ImagiNation fosters creative thinking, problem solving and teamwork, Littlejohn said.

The two James Bickley teams included Fabulous 4 and !Splat!.

Fabulous 4 had to figure out a way to get objects over a six-foot wall into targets they couldn’t see.

!Splat! had to build a structure out of newspaper and glue that could hold weight.

Both teams also performed a skit.

“(Destination ImagiNation) helps the students see how to solve problems that come up in every day life and at work,” Littlejohn said.

Littlejohn said she has enjoyed watching the students grow over the past three years and teaming up again this year to meet the challenge.

“They all think they have the best idea. They have to learn to work together,” she said.

Littlejohn took seven teams to the competition — three from Ranchvale and four from James Bickley. The Gifted and Talented teacher Marilyn Buchanan from Cameo also took a team, which placed second.

Abby McCarty, a member !Splat!, said she likes Destination ImagiNation because it’s fun.

“We get to go to Albuquerque and do fun things,” she said. “It’s fun that you have to use your brain to the puzzles and things.”

McCarty said she liked worked in a group also.

“It’s fun because we all have different points of view,” McCarty said.

James Bickley Principal Todd Morris said he’s proud of his students.

“I have the best kids, period,” he said.

He said the school plans to order banners for the past three state winners and display them.

“We want to instill in our kids that they can do whatever they put their mind to,” Morris said.

The teams headed to the global championship will be hosting a car wash.