Problem-solving power

Published 9:44 pm Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Odyssey: An Odyssey of the Mind team from Kilby Shores Elementary School recently competed at a state competition. Odyssey of the Mind encourages creative thinking, problem-solving and teamwork skills in students.

Kilby Shores Odyssey of the Mind team makes state appearance

Two Suffolk schools’ Odyssey of the Mind teams took their problem-solving skills to the Odyssey of the Mind state finals in Northern Virginia.

Northern Shores and Kilby Shores elementary schools’ teams performed at the state competition April 16 at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria.

The teams offered solutions to a long-term problem that they selected in October and solved a spontaneous problem the day of the competition.

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The Odyssey teams are responsible for solving the problem, and any outside assistance, which includes the coaches, can be penalized.

Northern Shores’s team competed in the As Good As Goldberg category in which the members had to use a real device that completes a simple task to create a new complex device that does the same thing.

Their performance had to include an inventor character and a marketing plan for the item.

Northern Shores members Justin Littlejohn, Deven Perez, Megan Hough, Kaylea Spiroff, Jack McGhee and Erin Hough used several different components in order to simply pull the trigger on a Febreze bottle.

Northern Shores placed sixth in its division for Problem 2.

The Kilby Shores team, along with their coaches, art teacher Angela Salerno and Meghan Kunes, performed their Australian-themed skit for the Full Circle challenge.

Although, Kilby Shores did not win its division, Salerno said the students did a great job with a creative skit.

“They were nervous, but they did really well,” she said. “There was a lot more pressure at the state, and they could feel it.”

The Full Circle category challenged the team to create a comedic performance in which something changes three times before changing back to the original form.

The skit could not be longer than eight minutes and needed to include a signal for the changes, a serious character, a silly character, a song and dance, and a surprise ending.

The students crafted a story about Petey the Platypus, played by Matthew Chamberlain, who lives in a billabong and decides he doesn’t want to be a platypus anymore.

Petey visits animals that try to help him, including Emily the emu, played by Emily Campbell; Fred the frilled lizard, played by Autumn Thompson; and Jumping Katie the kangaroo, played by Haleigh Perry.

In the end, Petey decides he likes being a platypus after all.

Ashley Bido plays the kookaburra, the narrator of the story, and Benji Salerno portrays the echidna that offers Petey advice. Maddy Carr played a koala and raccoon.

Salerno said one of her favorite things about the skit was the costumes. The team had a $125 limit for expenditures, but Salerno said they did not buy a lot.

“They did a lot of recycling,” she said.

The students used plastic bags for the emu’s feathers, straws for the lizard’s frilled collar and a baseball cap for Petey’s bill.

The Kilby Shores team competed against 10 other teams in its division.

Salerno said the students did really well on the skit, but they had trouble with the other part of the competition – the spontaneous problem.

The team members were disappointed but enjoyed the experience.

“I’m glad they had the chance to compete,” Salerno said. “They work together very well.”

The Kilby Shores team will perform the skit for the last time for their school Friday at 2 p.m.

Odyssey of the Mind teaches students problem-solving while they express their creativity and have fun.

Schools all around the world have Odyssey Team, and there are divisions for elementary school, middle school, high school and college.