The Purple Platypi tied for fifth place and won the Renaissance Award for outstanding creativity at Destination ImagiNation’s 2013 Global Finals in May.
For the past four years, Wendell Andersson and Maria Tice have coached Destination ImagiNation (DI) teams at Chelsea Heights Elementary School. DI is a nonprofit program that helps kids discover their creativity through a variety of challenges and competitions.
This year, three of the seven teams at Chelsea Heights went to the state competition and one team, the Purple Platypi, went on to Global Finals in Tennessee after placing first at the regional competition in March and the state competition in April.
The Purple Platypi began working on the challenge in December after choosing to compete in the fine arts category. Their challenge was called “In Disguise,” which required creating a skit focusing on a character that uses a disguise to achieve a goal. The requirements included using two masks, one decorative and one morphing.
The team developed a story about an egg-loving man who visits a zoo and uses a disguise to sneak into the ostrich enclosure to steal a giant egg for an omelet. The team created a zoo set, a huge ostrich costume and a 4-foot-tall paper-mache egg that hatched to reveal a baby ostrich inside.
The team scoured Goodwill for costumes and used cheap items like bathroom rugs to simulate feathers.
The trip to Tennessee “ was very exciting and a huge honor,” said Andersson. “We’re the first team from Chelsea Heights to go and the team knows that their success will inspire the younger teams coming up.”
Through fundraising and financial support from the Chelsea Heights PTO, the team was able to make the expensive trip. They also shared transportation costs with teams from St. Anthony Park Elementary and Murray Junior High by chartering a bus for the 18-hour trip.
At the competition, the team participated in DI’s Buddy Team program, which paired the Purple Platypi with a sixth-grade team from Mexico City called the Color Blobs. The two teams attended each other’s performances, went swimming and even took a day trip to Dollywood to ride a few roller coasters.
“For those parents considering the school for their child, the team’s success proves that the kids from this school can compete with any school in the state—even the world,” Andersson said. “That’s a great feeling.”