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Helmut Schmidt, Published May 30 2013

With a knack for wind, Moorhead kids take first at global contest

MOORHEAD – A team of Moorhead High School ninth-graders soared to first place in their category at the Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, Tenn., last week.

The DI Vinci’s earned top marks in the competition for their hand-tooled wooden, wind-powered kinetic art; a skit that showed their knowledge of wind energy, and their problem-solving skills.

DI Vinci’s team members are Anthony Johnson, David Thibert, Seamus Neill, Alex Volk and Nick Cameron. The team manager is Anthony’s mom, Laurie Johnson.

Destination Imagination requires competitors to creatively mix aspects of science, technology and the arts. The competition is split into several events, with the rules for each area changed annually.

The DI Vinci’s competed in the science category, Wind Visible, against 65 other teams from the United States and South Korea, Singapore, Turkey, Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, China and Poland.

The DI Vinci’s shared first with teams from Missouri and Poland.

“It’s really an awesome experience,” Thibert said.

Laurie Johnson, who is also a regional director for DI in Minnesota, says she doesn’t believe a Moorhead team has ever taken first in a Global Finals. Most of Minnesota’s Global Finals first-place winners are from the Twin Cities, she said.

North Dakota’s affiliate tournament director Ruth Faul said the state has had teams place in the top 15 at Global Finals in the past, but she can’t recall a first-place finish.

The Moorhead squad’s kinetic sculpture, a wing-flapping nod to Orville and Wilber Wright’s first successful airplane flight, had to operate at least 15 seconds using wind power.

It took the DI Vinci’s 100 hours to custom make the parts, Anthony Johnson said.

The device was used in an eight-minute skit that showed the team researched wind energy.

They also excelled in a problem-solving “instant challenge,” taking third in that part of the competition. The DI Vinci’s were split into two groups, and given a selection of items, including pencils, clothespins, chopsticks and aluminum foil, and told to build two towers at least 20 inches tall.

Another Moorhead team, the Horizon Middle School and Moorhead High DI team, Yards For Youth, placed 20th out of 50 teams in their service project category in Knoxville.

The Yards For Youth sew-a-thon, with volunteer help, made 325 pillowcases for Fargo’s Sanford Children’s Hospital.

Team members are Abigail Johnson, Emily Karevold, Hannah Hendrickson, Claire Twedt, Caroline Wirries and Emily Pratt.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583