September 27, 2016 | Dearborn, MI
Ford STEAM Experience Wows in Knoxville, Tenn., with Escape the Garage Challenge at Destination Imagination Global Finals

In collaboration with Destination Imagination, a nonprofit whose mission is to “empower students to change the world,” Ford Motor Company created a challenge called Escape the Garage that required students to draw on their ingenuity and teamwork. The challenge debuted at Global Finals 2016 in Knoxville, Tenn., in May.


When student groups such as global champion Team Lightbulb from Caruso Middle School in Deerfield, Ill., entered the Ford-designed garage on May 28 and the door closed, members had 10 minutes to solve clues that would help them escape.


“Students combined teamwork and STEAM skills, which is exactly what Destination Imagination is all about, to figure out how to solve a problem they’d never seen before,” said Team Lightbulb coach Dave Kaufman. “Having a major sponsor like Ford be a part of the students’ experience was amazing.”


Members of Team Lightbulb said their emotions ranged from nervousness to excitement at the start of the event, but one thing resonated with all five of them – teamwork would be key to the escape.


“When we figured out different clues in the garage, we communicated that to the others to help them solve their clues,” said Team Lightbulb’s Alexandria Shick.


Another team member, Emme Sang, said that after unlocking one of the lockers, they had trouble getting the lock out. “There were maybe three of us working on it, so we had to call over another teammate to get the lock out.”


Students had to draw on their own technical skills without any help from adults – known throughout Destination Imagination as outside interference. From the coaches’ perspectives, this was a teaching moment, one that really empowered the student participants.


“The kids were super excited and kept talking about it afterward,” said Kaufman. “This experience will stay with them for a long time, and that’s very valuable.” For more than 30 years, Ford Motor Company has inspired young people to seek knowledge, be curious, solve problems and – like Henry Ford himself – make dreams of a better world come true. The company is committed to fostering interest in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math among American youth to help ensure the country can maintain its legacy of innovation and continue to thrive in a global economy.