DENVER – Lincoln Charter School sent five teams to the State Odyssey of the Mind competition at East Carolina University April 6, with two – one comprised of elementary school students and the other a group of middle schoolers – qualifying to compete in the World Championships at Michigan State University May 22-25.
Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving program involving students from kindergarten through college.
The program, which was founded in 1978, consists of two projects. The first involves solving a predefined long-term problem over a period of months, the solution to which is later presented at a competition. The second project is spontaneous, meaning the team is tasked with solving a problem they’ve never seen before on the spot during the competition.
“The students do all of this without any outside assistance,” Lincoln Charter School sponsor Trisha Amos said. “They have a coach, but (the coach is) really just there as a representative, and then they have a school sponsor, which is my role. It’s really a great program that forces the kids to think outside of the box and use every part of their brain.”
“Essentially it’s a competition based on creativity,” added Michael Davis, coach of the World Championship-qualifying middle school team. “The teams are limited to seven members. I’m the coach, but what I really am is more of a project manager because I can give them feedback on what they’ve done but I can’t help them do it.”
Lincoln Charter formed its teams at the beginning of the school year in August, using the next couple of months to analyze and develop a better understanding of each problem. The creative process then typically starts around October and the teams work on their projects until March, when they take their work to the regional competition.
“The teams usually meet after school about once each week to work on their projects, but they have to meet outside of school on the weekends as the competitions draw nearer,” Amos said.
Five teams from Lincoln Charter advanced through regionals to the state competition, where two of the five earned second-place finishes to qualify for the World Championships.
The middle school team, comprised of Sophie Davis, Thomas Strain, Matthew Radin, Kelbi Pierce, Andrew Gribbins, Madison Workman and Emma Chaney, tackled the problem identified as “Leonardo (Da Vinci)’s Workshop,” in which it had to portray his workshop in an original, creative performance featuring Da Vinci, a patron and a naysayer.
Creativity is the name of the game in Odyssey of the Mind, and the Lincoln Charter team displayed theirs by depicting Da Vinci’s workshop as his brain. To do so, the team constructed a brain that stands five feet tall, seven feet long and five feet wide, for which they were presented the Ranatra Fusca Creativity Award, awarded to a team that exhibits exceptional creativity through some aspect of their problem solution.
The elementary school team, which consists of Cade Bray, Alden Stoffel, Aubrey Landrum, Zara Yousef, Olivia Ralph and Carissa Ralph, tackled the “Hide in Plain Sight” problem. The team was tasked with building a mechanical creature that hides in plain sight by changing its appearance three times in three different ways.
While the teams have qualified for the World Championships, they have to pay their own way to attend.
In support of its teams, Lincoln Charter School will host an Odyssey of the Mind themed Parents’ Night Out from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 11. The event is open to the public for children in kindergarten and older, with the kids participating in spontaneous challenges, creating their own “fashionable” headwear for the hat parade and playing creative versions of traditional games.
A ticket for one child is $20 and $15 for each additional child, and dinner is included in the ticket price. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.