Baylor's Problem Solving Team Takes Top Spots At Worldwide Competition

June 13, 2006

by Frank Raczkiewicz

In its first year competing as a student organization, Baylor University's Creative Problem Solvers came in first, second and third place in three separate challenges at the 2006 Destination Imagination (DI) Global Finals held at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. The rankings propelled Baylor to be one of the more successful teams at this year's competition.

"We really couldn't have done much better," said team member Alan Lamb, a junior from Dallas and vice president of the student organization.

DI is a "process-based program" that promotes creative and critical thinking skills. Team members work together for several weeks leading up to the competition to create a solution to a team challenge. The challenge can have a focus that is theatrical, structural, improvisational, scientific or technical - or a combination of several disciplines. Teams also compete in an instant challenge where team members learn and practice quick-thinking skills. Each solution is judged and awarded a certain number of points.

In the improvisational challenge, Baylor's team took first place, the second year in a row Baylor achieved the top spot. The "On Safari" challenge gave each team a certain environment and a living animal. For example, Baylor was given the red-eyed tree frog and the Florida swamps as the environment. Each team was then asked to create a theatrical skit using both the environment and animal. After a few minutes of thinking and talking, Baylor's team came up with a skit: the tree frog had severe acne, so the frog wanted a mud-facial to treat it. In order for that happen, the frog had to travel to the Florida swamps.

Lamb said judges awarded Baylor the majority of points in this challenge for the creativity of the skit.

"The biggest thing this competition awards is the diversity of thought," Lamb said. "Baylor attracts such diverse student population that we had a very diverse team, not just with different majors, but with different religious and ethnic backgrounds. All that played a key role in how well we did."

Baylor's team also earned second place out of six teams in the long-term technical challenge, the first year Baylor competed in the challenge. The "Back at You" challenge asked participants to build a device that could launch a tennis ball from point A to point B. Team members then had to create a skit that involved the device. Points were awarded for the distance the tennis ball traveled and the creativity of the skit, among several other factors.

In addition to placing first and second, two Baylor team members joined teams from other universities to compete in the SuperMax DI: eXtreme challenge. One student competed along with a team from Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, to get third place. Another student joined a team from the University of Minnesota, which came in sixth.

"The entire event was exciting and, most importantly, everyone had fun," Lamb said.

All the students raised the money, about $4,000, needed to travel to the competition, but Lamb said while it was a tedious task, it was well worth the time and effort.

This year's team consisted of Lauren Hollon, a sophomore majoring in anthropology; Jordan Powell, a sophomore majoring in political science; Kacie Cummings, a sophomore majoring in nursing; Michelle Alvarez, a junior majoring in biology and religion; Hunter Smith, a junior majoring in electrical and computer engineering and Alan Lamb, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering.

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