About 400 students from the Merrimack Valley filled the Greater Lawrence Technical School on Saturday, March 16 for the Region 5 Massachusetts Destination Imagination, or DI, Tournament.

DI is a creative problem solving organization that teaches students in kindergarten through grade 12 life skills.

Students select one of six STEAM challenges in the areas of engineering, technical design, science, fine arts, improvisational theater, and service learning. In small teams of up to seven they worked to create a solution over the course of six months.

The challenges ask students to do research, design technical devices, and write a script for a skit that answers the questions posed by their challenge. Students have to write their own story and turn it into a play, as well as design all their costumes, props, sets, and devices without any interference from adults.

The challenges teach students about project management, teamwork, effective communication and poise under pressure.

Andover has the largest membership, not only in Massachusetts, but anywhere in the United States. This year the town had 39 teams. Over 200 Andover students from the public school district and private schools participate, and nearly 100 adults volunteer their time to make it work.

Andover teams performed well at the tournament with 22 teams scoring in the top three of their age group and challenge. About 14 of those teams placed high enough to qualify for the state tournament at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the highest number of Andover teams ever sent to the tournament.

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