Apr 112014

The Students for a Creative Iowa Board of Directors wants to thank all the teams that participated in the Iowa Destination Imagination program this season! We are very proud to have 13 teams representing Iowa at the 2014 Global Finals event in Knoxville TN on May 21-24th. If you missed downloading competition results, visit the Competition Results page.

Watch the below video to get a small taste of what our teams will be experiencing in May!

Mar 172014

As you prepare your teams for the State tournament, consider holding a meeting just for Instant Challenge practice. More than a dozen performance-based, task-based and Rising Stars! Instant Challenges were recently added to cre8iowa’s Instant Challenge Library. If you have not visited it recently, the new ones are identified with the word NEW! after them.

The Instant Challenges in our library were written, for the most part, for an intermediate level of difficulty. You can increase the difficulty of most Instant Challenges by:

  • swapping out the materials
  • decreasing the number of materials
  • decreasing the amount of time
  • adding another requirement or step
  • making the Challenge non-verbal

Check the “Notes to the Appraisers” section in an Instant Challenge for suggestions on how to make the Challenge more difficult. You can also make an Instant Challenge easier for your team by:

  • swapping out the materials
  • increasing the number of materials
  • increasing the amount of time
  • removing a requirement or step
  • changing a non-verbal requirement to verbal

Whether you use the Instant Challenges as written or revise its level of difficulty, make sure you practice multiple types of Instant Challenges, task-based, performance-based, or combination. There is no way to predict which type of Instant Challenge your team will receive at competition.

Why the emphasis on Instant Challenge? The best teams frequently cluster at the top of the scoring range for Central Challenge. A great Instant Challenge score can make a difference, advancing your team’s placement at tournament.

Team Managers can help their teams prepare for Instant Challenge at tournament by encouraging them to think like an Appraiser. What does that mean?
  • Appraisers look for an impromptu solution that showcases teamwork, demonstrates creative problem solving, and is presented as a performance and/or some form of materials manipulation.
  • Appraisers appreciate a team’s collective creative thinking, which they observe through the team’s use of many, varied, and unusual or original possibilities, and their use of details to expand or enrich those possibilities while they brainstorm their solution.
  • Successful teams go with the FFLOE: Fluency (they quickly think of many possibilities); FLexibility (varied possibilities), Originality (unusual/original possibilities), and Elaboration (use of details to expand or enrich possibilities).
  • Successful teams are good managers of time, materials, and details.  They incorporate a Plan B.  They are effective decision-makers.  They communicate well with each other.

All of this takes time and practice. If your team has not practiced Instant Challenge over the entire season, it is difficult to build a library of experiences out of thin air. A library of experiences gives your team a pool of possibilities from which they can draw, extrapolate, modify, enhance and invent.  Appraisers can definitely tell which teams have practiced Instant Challenge.

The most successful teams, however, have fun while they are solving an Instant Challenge, which puts not only team members at ease, but also the Appraisers. Appraisers want to have fun, too.

Remember:  Nothing is impossible!  Anything is possible! Good luck with your Instant Challenge at tournament.

Mar 112014

With the Sub-state tournament behind you and the State tournament ahead of you, how can your team get as much information about its scores as possible so that it can prepare for the next level of competition? If you have not already done so, visit the Competition Results page to download your team’s scores. For those of you who are new to the program this season, please note that all competitive teams who provided trained Appraisers at the Sub-state tournament do advance to the State tournament. The Sub-state tournament is a dry run of sorts, which enables your team to work out the kinks and get some initial feedback in the form of scores. We expect every team to make changes to its solution as a result of this feedback.


The same paperwork you brought to the Sub-state tournament is required at the State tournament. Make changes as necessary to your previous Tournament Data Form and Expense Report, and check the forms for completeness and legibility.  Have your students type the required information using the interactive forms instead of completing them by hand. “Interactive” means you can save and re-edit them later. If you run out of space, type on the back side, keeping in mind that officials do not have time to read a novel. Make sure your students write complete sentences, not three-word responses. Appraisers rely on this information to reward points, so the more complete information your team provides, the easier it is for officials to award your team points.

All teams are required to bring 5 copies of the Tournament Data Form, 2 copies of the Declaration of Independence, 1 copy of the Expense Report, 1 copy of Team Clarifications (if your team requested any), and photocopies of receipts. Don’t forget to have a parent complete a Medical Information Form for each student in case of an emergency.

Please note that especially for teams competing in a Challenge and Level where there are three or fewer teams, the Affiliate Director will look over the last page of their Tournament Data Form very carefully. This page concerns the Creative Process, and provides an indication of how far along your team has come in its journey to learn about creativity. It is also an indicator of how committed your team is to becoming a Destination Imagination Global Finals-ready team.

You can download the interactive Destination Imagination Tournament Data Forms from these links. To do so most quickly, right-click on the link, and select “Save Link as…” to save each PDF document to your computer.

Performance Space

Every Team Challenge describes the physical conditions (floor surface, site size, and electrical power) in a section called Presentation Site. Floor surfaces are recommendations, but teams should be prepared to deal with a variety of floor surfaces. The dimensions described for the performance area are minimum requirements, but if tournament officials decide additional space is available, the team may use it. Keep in mind that this space is reserved for the team, not the audience. Teams should be aware that they are presenting to the Appraisers, not the audience. They should practice left and right entrances and exits, since conditions may change from one tournament level to the next. Remember that all props must fit through a standard doorway.

Tournament Scores

First of all, help your team to analyze its standings. Every team’s score consists of individual components detailing whether your team did an above average, average or fair job of meeting the Team Challenge requirements. To learn where your team needs to make changes, it’s important to examine your scores very carefully, and to compare them to the Reward Points section of your team’s Challenge.

Types of Scores

Teams are awarded Subjective, Objective or Zero Scores for various scoring elements.

An objective score is awarded for fulfilling a specific requirement: If you do this, it is worth X number of points. If it is there, the points are awarded; if it is not, that scoring element receives a Zero Score. Make sure that your team is not losing easy points by missing required elements! Often, objective scores are awarded for problem-solving, i.e., solving a specific task.

Whenever you see a range of points awarded for a scoring element, this is a subjective score that is the result of the Appraisers’ opinions. Subjective scores are usually awarded for creativity, innovation, the Team Choice Elements, and Instant Challenge. Is your team getting the most out of its subjective scoring areas? Let’s examine these subjective areas in more detail:

  • Creativity and Innovation

In general, anywhere that creativity is scored, the team needs to ask itself: Is our solution really original, innovative, unique, uncommon, or unexpected? Are we using common materials in uncommon or unexpected ways?  Is the team making sure that every element is its OWN solution, rather than being produced by someone else? This could be an Interference issue and result in a deduction, especially at State, where scoring is stricter.

Some Challenges (often the technical ones) call for a technical design and innovation score. Technical design is all about how effective, efficient and reliable the technical methods used are. Technical innovation is about how new/unique, original or creative the methods are—including the level of complexity, elegance, riskiness, difficult, originality, and/or creativity.

  • Team Choice Elements

Many teams do not score as highly as they can for their Team Choice Elements. Keep in mind, first of all, that Appraisers can only score what the team describes on its Tournament Data Form. If this information is not detailed enough, then the Appraisers will not have a clear understanding of what they should score. The Appraisers MUST use what the team describes on the Tournament Data Form. If the information is not there, the Appraisers cannot make assumptions about where the team wants them to award points.

Has the team selected the right Team Choice Element, or is there something else that would be a better choice? Make sure that the Team Choice Element is not something that is already being scored elsewhere. If your team’s costumes are a required part of the Challenge, for example, then you should not list them as a Team Choice Element. You may, however, single out one of the costumes because of its special properties; make sure you describe what is special on your Tournament Data Form!

A very important fact to keep in mind is that a Team Choice Element is awarded points in 3 areas, worth 10 points apiece: creativity and originality; quality, workmanship or effort that is evident, and integration into the Performance. Creativity and originality are often apparent when common materials are used in uncommon, unintended or unexpected ways. Quality, workmanship or effort become evident by the details invested in the outcome, by the amount of time it takes to develop the final product, and by the learning that takes place during the process. Integration into the Performance concerns how well the Team Choice Element fits into the story; would the story be the same if this Team Choice Element were not present?

  • Instant Challenge

A team’s Instant Challenge score is 25 percent of its final score, and often has a huge impact on the overall competitive outcome. Doing well in Instant Challenge is usually the result of practicing often and consistently, and of debriefing after every practice. A team should practice Instant Challenge at every team meeting. Ideally, a balance of different types of Instant Challenges should be included.

Instant Challenges are either task or performance-based, or a combination of the two. Task-based Challenges involve moving, guiding, controlling, building for weight, height and/or strength (or weakness!), modifying, narrowing down choices, or communicating. In contrast, performance-based Challenges require a performance involving a beginning, middle and ending. They may involve props and/or materials, or simply a team’s imagination. Any Instant Challenge may be non-verbal, in whole or in part.

Team Managers should feel free to modify practice Instant Challenges to address a perceived need that a team has. For example, a Team Manager can add or subtract time for a Challenge, remove or add steps, or substitute other materials that are smaller (or larger) in scale than the ones described in a published Instant Challenge. They can require a non-verbal solution, ask the team to split into two parts, remove or add materials, and so on. Have a team member or two sit out and make critical observations. Always debrief your team afterward, asking your team to evaluate itself: What do you think you did well? What could you do better? What would you change the next time around? Don’t be afraid to repeat the same Instant Challenge, requiring a completely different solution the second time around!

Swap out the roles that team members play; in business this is known as cross-training. Do the same with your team, making sure that different people act as facilitator, timekeeper, rules keeper, builder, planner, points analyzer, risk manager, and so on. The ways in which your team members communicate with each other through these roles is an important part of their teamwork score. Most Instant Challenges have a planning component, when teamwork is evaluated. Keep in mind that a team that cannot be heard can also not be awarded points; do not whisper at any time during Instant Challenge!

A useful exercise is having your team write its own Instant Challenge, which makes them much more aware of the components of Instant Challenge, as well as the creative problem-solving process.

To best prepare for Instant Challenge, help your team build a library of experiences from which it can draw when faced with Instant Challenge in a competitive situation. At the very least, your team will feel more comfortable in dealing with the unexpected if it has practiced Instant Challenge often and regularly. Resources for Instant Challenge are found in cre8iowa’s Instant Challenge Library and in the cre8iowa Member Gallery, as well as in the Destination Imagination Resource Area and at ShopDI. Next year, make sure your team attends cre8iowa’s annual Instant Challenger workshop.


If your team received penalties in any area, this could have happened for a number of reasons. One reason is that a required element was missing. Another reason might be that your team interpreted a rule incorrectly. If your team violated a rule, disregarded a Published Clarification, didn’t follow the correct sequence of steps described in the Team Challenge, or has unrealistic values for one or more items on the Expense Report, this is called an Illegal Procedure and results in a deduction. If your team received a deduction for Interference, this means that the team got help or input from non-team members. Unlike an Interference or Illegal Procedure deduction, an Unsportsmanlike Conduct deduction is assessed against the team’s total Scaled Score. In all of these cases, the solution is for the team to go back to the Team Challenge and/or Rules of the Road, and re-read it carefully. Make absolutely sure that your team has read and understands the Published Clarifications. These supersede the Team Challenge rules:

Raw Score vs. Scaled Score

You’ll notice, when you look at the scores, that there are 2 rows of numbers for your team. Although there are some exceptions, in general the bottom row of numbers is the team’s Raw Scores, or the number of points Appraisers award the team for its performance in the Central Challenge, Team Choice Elements and Instant Challenge. Please note that these are preliminary scores, and that at this point your team’s score has not been ranked against other teams. Together, these points add up to a maximum combined 400 points: 300 points for the Team Challenge (240 Central Challenge points + 60 Team Choice Elements points), and 100 points for Instant Challenge. If your team is doing Challenge D, the improvisational Challenge, you have no Team Choice Elements and therefore your Central Challenge alone accounts for three-fourths of your team’s score, or 300 points.

The top row of numbers is your team’s Scaled Scores. What this means is that the preliminary or Raw Scores are turned over to the Score Room, where they are stacked against other teams’ scores in your Challenge and Level, and curved on a scale, much as grades in a typical classroom are curved on a scale. If Team ABC’s Raw Score of 76.75 is the highest Instant Challenge score for its Challenge and Level, for example, then its Scaled Score is 100 points, and all other teams in that Challenge and Level are scored proportionately beneath it.

The significance of the Raw Scores versus the Scaled Scores is that between the two is a narrow time frame when your team can get some initial feedback. Thirty minutes after a team performs its Team Challenge, one Team Manager and one team member may pick up the team’s Raw Scores and discuss them with the Head Appraiser or Challenge Master. If your team has not been doing this, you have missed a great opportunity to learn more about the team’s performance. The official reviews areas of strength and areas where you team may need to improve, asking open-ended questions that the team should take to heart and discuss during a team meeting. The official will not suggest specific ways to improve scoring areas, of course, for this would be Interference. After this meeting, the Raw Scores go to the Score Room for final computerized calculations.

Breakdown of Reward Points

Where you will find your team’s Scaled and Raw Scores can be found in the bulleted list below. Note that the scores correspond directly with the Reward Points section of your team’s Challenge. It is critical that your team examine each column of its scores in relationship to (1) its own Total Scaled Score, and (2) other teams’ individual scoring elements, since this will help your team understand where it would be most impactful to make changes and/or focus additional effort. Point out to your team the pie charts that are in their Team Challenge. This will help them understand visually the impact of different scoring elements.

Challenge A:

  • Column 1: The top number is the Total Scaled Score (max. 400 points). Below it are deductions (if any).
  • Column 2: The top number is the Scaled Objects Score (max. 70 points). Below it is the Raw Score.
  • Column 3: The top number is the Scaled Containers Score (max. 50 points). Below it is the Raw Score.
  • Column 4: The top number is the Scaled Equipment Score (max. 70 points). Below it is the Raw Score.
  • Column 5: The top number is the Scaled Story Score (max. 50 points). Below it is the Raw Score.
  • Column 6: The top number is the Scaled Team Choice Elements Score (max. 60 points). Below it is the Raw Score.
  • Column 7: The top number is the Scaled Instant Challenge score (max. 100 points). Below it is the Raw Score.

Challenges B, C & Service Learning:

  • Column 1: The top number is the Total Scaled Score (max. 400 points). Below it are deductions (if any).
  • Column 2: The top number is the Scaled Central Challenge Score (max. 240 points). Below it is the Raw Score.
  • Column 3: The top number is the Scaled Team Choice Elements Score (max. 60 points). Below it is the Raw Score.
  • Column 4: The top number is the Scaled Instant Challenge score (max. 100 points). Below it is the Raw Score.

Challenge D:

  • Column 1: The top number is the Total Scaled Score (max. 400 points). Below it are deductions (if any).
  • Column 2: The top number is the Scaled Central Challenge Score (max. 300 points). Below it is the Raw Score.
  • Column 3: The top number is the Scaled Instant Challenge score (max. 100 points). Below it is the Raw Score.

Challenge E:

  • Column 1: The top number is the Total Scaled Score (max. 400 points). Below it are deductions (if any).
  • Column 2: The top number is the number of points awarded for the Scaled Weight Held Ratio (max. 140 points). Below it is the Scaled Weight Held Ratio, based on the number in Column 3 divided by the Structure’s weight in grams (not shown).
  • Column 3: The number is the Total Weight Held by the Structure (in pounds).
  • Column 4: The top number is the combined Scaled Score (max. 100 points) for Element 2 (Prop container and contents fit completely within designated space), Element 3 (Story), and Element 4 (Site-Assembled Prop). Below it is the Raw Score.
  • Column 5: The top number is the Scaled Team Choice Elements Score (max. 60 points). Below it is the Raw Score.
  • Column 6: The top number is the Scaled Instant Challenge score (max. 100 points). Below it is the Raw Score.

Advancing to the Next Level

In moving from one tournament level to the next, all teams are expected to evaluate how they did previously, set new goals and modify their solutions. The best teams often triple the level of complexity between the Sub-state and State tournaments, and triple it again between State and Global Finals tournaments. We are looking forward to seeing the results of that process!

Feb 232014

The Sub-state tournament schedule is now available for viewing. Please note that the deadline for special schedule requests has passed. If a special situation arises between now and the Sub-state tournament, you may contact another team and exchange places, as long as that team is competing in the same Challenge and Level. However, both teams must notify cre8iowa in advance by emailing cre8iowa@gmail.com. If your team withdraws, please notify us immediately, as this affects the schedule.

Go to our Competition Schedule page to download the Sub-state tournament schedule, as well as to locate driving directions to Ames Middle School. The download link for the schedule is AFTER the map, so make sure you scroll past the map.

You may find the following Tournament reminders helpful:

  • Check-in
    • When you first arrive at the tournament site, visit the Registration table (located in the Commons) to check-in your team. This is also where you will receive the most up-to-date version of the tournament schedule, which may include room changes.
  • Parking
    • Please note that buses should NOT park in front of the school. Those that have done so in the past get parked in until the end of the tournament, and cannot get out until everyone else has left. Instead, park in the back of the school in the north lot.
    • Challenge A teams can drop off their props by going to the East parking lot. Look for the doors with a large letter “A” on them.
    • Do not park in the center turnaround. This is a Cy-Ride turnaround, and you will be towed away if you park here.
  • Schedule
    • When you check your schedule, please note that there are 2 performance times: one for the Team Challenge, and one for Instant Challenge. Check-in is 20 minutes before any performance, so give yourself enough time to move from one location to the next.
    • Challenge E teams have a structure weigh-in time, for a total of 4 scheduled times: Structure Check-in, Team Challenge Check-in, Team Challenge and Instant Challenge.
    • Refer to the schedule you pick up during Check-in, NOT the schedule you download from this Web site, since it will contain any time or room changes.
  • Prop Storage
    • We are asking Team Managers and Coordinators for their assistance in monitoring Prop Storage. Prop Storage is NOT supervised, so do not leave your valuables unattended. Many teams choose to leave their solution in a vehicle until it is time to perform.
    • If you see something that shouldn’t be happening, please let the Prep Area Appraiser for that Challenge know, or talk to the Challenge Master (identified by a neon-colored safety vest).
  • Things to do during downtime
    • Participate in cre8iowa’s 25th Anniversary Scavenger Hunt. More information is available at the Registration table.
    • There will be a photo station somewhere in the Commons, so bring your camera and take a team photo.
    • Your team is encouraged to watch other teams’ performances, since this is a great learning opportunity.
    • Pin & T-shirt designs for 2014-15 that are received via e-mail or snail mail before the Sub-state tournament will be displayed in the Commons Area. Take time to preview them; you can vote for your favorite design at the State tournament! If you wish, you can even create and submit your designs at the Sub-state tournament. Complete rules may be found here: http://www.cre8iowa.org/current-season/contest/
    • Got a restless team? There are games that teams can borrow to keep them occupied. The Games Table is located in the Commons Area. Also, check out the state team packet for some more ideas.
  • No dumping of any part of your solution is allowed. We appreciate being able to use the Ames Middle School facility, and want to insure that we are welcome in the future. Dumping of any part of your solution can be grounds for an Unsportsmanlike Conduct deduction, even after the tournament is completed.
  • Paperwork requirements. Make sure your team shows up with the appropriate completed paperwork. This is turned in to the Prep Area Appraiser. Team Managers can complete paperwork for elementary teams as long as they write the exact words the team dictates. Middle and high schoolers should complete their own paperwork. It is important that these forms be legible! To insure legibility, take advantage of the fillable forms found in the Resource Area. If you run out of space, type on the back, or attach a second sheet. Keep in mind, however, that Appraisers do not have time to read a novel!
    • All teams: Declaration of Independence (2 copies), one for the Prep Area Appraiser, and one for Instant Challenge Check-in.
    • All teams: 5 copies of completed pages 1-2 of the Tournament Data Form (each Appraiser gets a copy).
    • All teams: 1 copy of completed page 3. This is a reflection about each stage of the creative process as the team solved its Challenge. The team should write about specific activities or discussions that took place at each stage of the program. Especially in Challenges where fewer than 3 teams compete in a Level, the Iowa Affiliate Director will evaluate how the team completes “The Creative Process” section of its Tournament Data Form. Please encourage your teams to take seriously this part of their tournament paperwork. You will find more information about “The Creative Process” HERE.
    • All teams: Medical Information Form for each team member (kept by the Team Manager in case of an emergency).
    • All teams except for Improvisational Challenge D: Expense Report (make sure this is a photocopy, since it will not be returned to you). Also bring copies of receipts in case questions arise about Expense Report.
    • All teams: 5 photocopies of Team Clarifications (if your team asked for any).
  • Things to know
    • All teams are required to familiarize themselves with Published Clarifications. These clarifications supersede all other rules and can be published ANYTIME.
    • Make sure you review the Tournament Policies page. No weapons (real or facsimile) are allowed, and requests for the use of dry ice must be pre-approved by the Tournament Director. Lights may not be turned off during any performance. Helium balloons must remain under control at all times. Students must be supervised by adults at all times.
    • Not sure about what to expect at tournament? Read the Travel Guide for Teams, found HERE. This is a tournament prep guide that describes what happens at each Challenge site, who’s who, and how scoring works. It also includes handy checklists for what to bring to tournament, an information sheet you can complete and distribute to family members and friends who come to support you, and a great list of questions for you and your team to discuss after tournament.
  • Dress rehearsal. If you have not already scheduled a dress rehearsal, now is a great time to do so. Please remind audience members that it is Interference for them to provide any kind of constructive feedback. Have your team practice set-up, entering from the left, entering from the right, and having something go wrong (such as having scenery fall down, or a prop being forgotten at home). Remind teams that their solution must fit through a standard doorway.
  • Emergency repair kit. Now is a good time to have the team brainstorm a list of “what if” scenarios in case something goes wrong at the Tournament. Simultaneously, have the team brainstorm a list of items needed for an emergency repair kit.
  • Interference reminders. Remind parents and supporters that they may not help students put on makeup and costumes, and that it is the team’s responsibility to make any repairs to their solution. It is the team’s solution! Also, remind parents not to ask students about their Instant Challenge. The same set of Instant Challenges is being performed internationally, so students may not discuss their Instant Challenge with anyone besides their Team Manager(s) until after Destination Imagination Global Finals. When discussing Instant Challenge, teams need to do so privately, not in public places such as at the tournament or in a restaurant.

As always, feel free to contact us with your questions at cre8iowa@gmail.com.

By my participation in an event conducted by an Affiliate, Region or other gathering related to the Destination Imagination program, the participant or participant’s parents or participant’s guardian understands and hereby voluntarily agrees to release, waive, forever discharge, hold harmless, defend and indemnify Destination Imagination Inc., and their agents, officers, boards, volunteers, and employees from any and all liability and all claims, actions, or losses for bodily injury, property damage, wrongful death, loss of services , or otherwise which may arise out of the participant’s participation in activities related to the Destination Imagination event, including travel to and from the event.