DI: A meeting of the minds

Can a civilization obsessed with donuts and Nintendo make amends with one that prefers to do pushups and jumping jacks? Absolutely. And all it takes is a group of seven sixth-grade boys, a time machine, a bridge that can hold about 20 pounds of weight and less than eight minutes.

For the PineCrest Energetic Engineers, nothing is impossible — especially not when the imagination reigns supreme, as it did on Saturday at Klahowya Secondary School during the Destination ImagiNation regional competition. The winners of the regional competition go on to the April 9 state competition in Wenatchee.

The competition gives students challenges and lets the students — in teams of seven, maximum — create their own solutions. Some solutions call for a bridge to be build, while others require the students build a vehicle or design a new creation. All of the challenges require creativity, teamwork, loads of imagination and a firm grasp on logic.

The aptly named PineCrest team was in the Disigning Bridges competition, in which the students have to build a bridge out of wood, fishing line and glue. In addition to the bridge, the students also had to write an eight-minute script to explain why the bridge was needed.

PineCrest’s coach Sunny Markeson, mother of team member Joshua Markeson, said the most difficult task in the three months the students worked on the project was getting the boys to focus on the task on hand.

“When you get a group of sixth-grade boys together ...” she said.

As a coach, she had to a walk fine line between coaching and giving the boys the answers.

“We had to find a balance — let them play, then let them work,” she said. And yes, it is true that she had the boys doing pushups during DI practice, she confirmed with a grin.

Participants in DI have to sign a form stating they will not receive outside help for their projects.

Overall, for Markeson, the hard work paid off.

“I think they came through the challenge with flying colors,” Markeson said.

Michele and Scott Breeding, who coached the Emerald Heights Elementary School’s Disigning Bridges team, have coaching down to a science.

And likely they should, as they’ve been coaching for about six years. They first started DI when their son, who’s now in the ninth grade, was a third-grader.

Now, they coach their daughter Shelby.

The toughest challenge about being a coach for Scott is not coming right out and saying an idea won’t work.

“It really tears you up when you see something that’s going to work and you can’t say anything,” said Scott Breeding, who works as a mechanic at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard when he isn’t coaching DI.

Elsewhere in the school, a group of self-proclaimed punks wearing pink were gearing up for their Live! It’s RaDIo DI performance. The punks, otherwise known as regular, every-day students from Green Mountain Elementary School, were gearing up for their radio show. Jeff Durr, who was going by the tough-guy name “Cream Puff,” said he was going to sleep very well Saturday night because, for the first time in three months, DI will be over.

Coach Mary Lou Trent said her team pulled a long day on Friday to take care of the last-minute details. In

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