Two fast-thinking girls beat out 50 other teams from around the world to walk away with a gold in this year's Destination ImagiNation Global Finals' instant challenge category at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
McKinney elementary students Joy Yang and Andrea Chiang, both 11, solved an instant technical challenge dubbed Assembly Required. Overall, they came in eighth in the world in the final challenge for their vehicle building skills.
No one could be prouder of the girls' accomplishments than their team leader Laura Zeng (who is also Joy's mother.)
"The girls did really well," said Zeng, who accompanied them for the five-day trip.
Her daughter, Joy, was thrilled and said the whole experience was "lots of fun."
"My favourite part of the whole trip was everybody was really nice to us and we could be ourselves," she said.
Joy and Andrea's challenge consisted of creating a device that could grab as many rubber ducks and ping pong balls in two minutes from inside a large tub of water, without touching the tub with their bodies.
"We attached pipe cleaners to the salad tongs and added two metre sticks on the side of the tongs. Then, we pressed against those sticks to make the tongs grab things," said Joy, who wants to be an engineer or scientist when she grows up.
Zeng said the girls had three minutes to create the floating device.
"They won by grabbing 29 ducks and four ping pong balls out of the water," she added. "The rules of the competition were that parents could teach the students how to use tools, but we could not help them problem solve - they had to think on their own."
Prior to the competition, Joy, who is in Grade 5 and Andrea, who is in Grade 4, taught themselves how to take a bicycle apart and create something new using the various parts.
"The girls practiced twice a week for months making machines and learning how to use tools," added Zeng.
Besides coming home as the best in the world in their category, Joy and Andrea each returned with championship medals and certificates.
Destination ImagiNation (DI) is an international critical thinking, problem solving based, cooperative team effort competition in which students develop their own ideas to tackle various challenges.
This year, DI Global Final had more than 1,270 teams, 15,000 children competing from seven Canadian provinces, 44 U.S. states and 14 countries from around the world including China, South Korea, Brazil, Singapore, England, Poland and Turkey.
"These teams are the top teams that won their way from different countries' regional tournaments and provincial tournaments to the Global Final," said Zeng.
In addition, several other B.C. teams placed in the top 10.
Teams of students solved interesting challenges themed around science, engineering, fine arts, community outreach and speed, to name a few categories.
Tens of thousands of British Columbia students in more than 500 schools have participated.
For more information, visit www.destinationimagination.ca.