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Four Colton Middle School students competed at a global event in Knoxville, Tennessee

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Anna Woodward, Laramie OeDell, Jacob Bell and Ciera Ridenour pose outside the Thomas Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee before the DI Challenge begins.

Back in April, the four members of Colton Middle School's TAG team, Cierra Ridenour, (eighth grade), Anna Woodward (eighth grade), Laramie OeDell (sixth grade) and Jacob Bell (fifth grade), participated at the Destination Imagination State Challenge where their top scores earned them a chance to compete at the Global Destination Imagination Challenge in Knoxville, Tennessee from May 23-26 where they would represent Oregon.

The Colton team competed in Destination Imagination's (DI) challenge, "Unlikely Attraction," a scientific challenge in a worldwide competition. This particular challenge was to explore scientific concepts used in amusement parks and then use those ideas to design and develop their own attraction. The cost of the project could not exceed $150 and it limited electronics. The participating teams were also required, through a presentation, to place the attraction in an imaginary setting where it is beneficial in a completely unlikely setting. The Colton team decided to build a vending machine. In the imagination/presentation part of the challenge, they placed the vending machine in the netherworld where the machine dispensed crystals (grown by the team) that would send the people back home.

The team had just a few weeks to earn the $13,350 needed for entrance fee, lodging, food, airfare for the students, one parent per student and TAG adviser and middle school teacher Jina Denney. With the help of many community members, local businesses and the hard work of the students and parents they did it.

The team had a tough time getting to the competition with canceled flights and missed connections, but after 21.5 hours they made it to Knoxville. In attendance were more than 1,400 teams with approximately 8,000 competitors from around the world. The event began with an Olympic style opening march with each team entering into the Thomas Boling Arena to a grand introduction. This event lead to one of the team's favorite pastimes—pin trading.

"It was like Globals had its own economy with all the pin trade," Woodward said. "You would meet someone and just pop out your pin towel to see who needed what and who could get you what you needed."

"For our first time at a competition like this, the team did great. I was really amazed by our kids," Denney said. "There was some damage during travel to the vending machine our students were using for the competition. They did a great job putting it back together on the spot. Destination Imagination is kid-centric. Our students were responsible for every part of their project. They did very well. Colton is a super time town and our kids realized not just the possibility, but they have the capability to do big things."

According to the DI website, "Beyond the academic tournament, the event offered other activities like an International Block Party, a Costume Ball where students created their costumes using duct tape, a series of innovation labs, inspiration sessions and games."

Ridenour said she wants to say thank-you to everyone who donated to their fundraisers.

"We had fun. It was the best experience. It encouraged us be creative in our thinking and as we say, to think outside the circle."

"It was a very powerful experience," OeDell said. "We learned a lot and communicated with a lot of different people."

The youngest member of the team is the most outgoing. He made a lot of new friends with the team from Mexico that was the partner team of Colton.

"I liked learning about other cultures and what they had to offer to the competition and making new friends," Bell said.

The parents and students want to thank everyone who donated to their multiple fundraisers and to the following companies who made the trip of a lifetime happen: Colton Boosters Club, Back 40 Tattoo, Roundup Family Hair Care, El Charrito in Molalla, Colton Coffee Cart, Colton Cook Shack, Molalla Subway, Figaro's Pizza in Molalla, Molalla Car Wash, PIPS Gourmet Hot Dogs and Ice Cream, Peter Clover at Mobile West, A Flock Above the Roost, Rexanne Woodward and The Cookie Girls, Coltontel, Colton Volunteer Firefighters Association, K's Nursery, Les Schwab of Molalla, Union Mills Feed Store, Tammy D's Cafe in Mulino, Wichita Pub and Grill in Oregon City and a huge thank you to Cypress Creek Renewables for their giant donation.

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