Destination Imagination finals kick off in Knoxville

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Destination Imagination is part fun and part learning, and adds up to a great experience for everyone participating.

"We have to be a team, we have to use teamwork, we have to be creative," said Sierra Scott, from Clovecroft Elementary School in Williamson County.

More than 1,200 teams from 42 states and 14 countries compete against each other in the global finals. Teaching the creative process - from imagination to innovation - is the overall goal.

"Open kids' ideas and their minds further. Because we teach kids to see things not as they are, but as they could be," said Chuck Cadle, CEO of Destination Imagination.

A Michigan team is doing a challenge called "wind visible", which explores how wind energy can make art move.

"You have to create an invisible visitor and you have to interact with him, but he can't speak to us, so he has to give us a sign or something. And we have to create kinetic art, which is just moving art," said Olivia Maiuri, a 7th grader at Bemis Junior High in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Kids from kindergarten through university level can compete. Sam Neirnyck participated for six years and is now an assistant team captain.

"It's an impeccable experience - I can't even begin to tell. I mean, it's shaped me as an individual, it gave me confidence and public speaking skills and even teamwork and creativity that cannot be matched by anything else that I've done," said Neirynck.

Besides competing to see who's the best, the kids leave with mementos from all over the world and with friendships that could last a lifetime..

The competition will wrap up on Saturday.

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