A fine ‘Mind’

Published 11:30 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Odyssey: The Kilby Shores Elementary School Odyssey of the Mind team displays their props for the problem they solved at a competition this weekend. Kilby Shores placed first in their section of the competition.

Suffolk students do well in Odyssey competition

For Northern Shores Elementary School students on Saturday, stuffed animals, flyswatters, books and an iron all were involved in the simple task of pulling the trigger on a bottle of Febreze.

Sound complicated? Well, that was the point of the competition.

Four Suffolk elementary schools placed at the regional Odyssey of the Mind Competition, and two will be going on to state competition.

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In the “Full Circle” competition, Kilby Shores placed first, Elephant’s Fork placed second and Driver placed third. Northern Shores earned first place in the “As Good as Goldberg” category.

The Odyssey of the Mind program teaches students to learn creative problem-solving methods, teamwork and imagination while having fun in the process.

The Northern Shores and Kilby Shores teams will compete in the state competition in Alexandria on April 16. The winning teams from the state competition will go on to the world competition in May at the University of Maryland.

“We won second place last year, so we are really excited to win first place,” said Jessica Newton, one of two Odyssey of the Mind coaches at Northern Shores.

This will be Newton’s first time going to state competition as an Odyssey of the Mind coach.

Angie Salerno, Odyssey of the Mind coach at Kilby Shores, has been to world competition before.

“I’m so excited, because I want to go back to world competition,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun. That’s our goal — to get back to world finals.”

Salerno said world competition gives students the opportunity to travel and meet students from all over the world.

During the competition, teams performed their solution to one long-term problem that they had selected in September and solved a spontaneous problem that they were given on the day of competition.

The third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders had to figure out the solution on their own. The coach’s job is just to facilitate and generate discussion.

The students are required to set up, perform their play and solve their long-term problem within eight minutes. There are several pages of specifications and requirements that the kids have to follow in developing their solutions, including a spending limit for costume and supply costs.

“It’s pretty intense,” Newton said.

The “Full Circle” competition required teams to present a humorous skit in which something or someone changed form three different times before returning back to its original form. They had to signal the audience each time the person or thing changed and include a humorous character, a very serious character, a song, a dance and an unexpected ending.

The “As Good as Goldberg” competition required students to take a real-life device with a simple use and create another device made out of an unnecessarily complex series of components that accomplishes the same task. They also were required to come up with an inventor character and a sales pitch for the contraption.