Seven students from Algonquin Middle School returned home from the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, which took place May 22-26 at Michigan State University. The team ranked 11th out of 64 teams representing 11 countries and 33 states.
Odyssey of the Mind (OotM) is a creative, problem solving team program. A group of five to seven students choose one of five long term problems to solve. The students resolve all issues presented on their own; coaches may facilitate discussions, but the students must generate all ideas, and ultimately conduct all work on their project.
While all problems require the creation and performance of an original eight-minute skit, some focus on engineering while others center attention on theatrics or classic tales.
The Algonquin team, composed of Isla Multunas, Katie Duran, Sam Martin, Tyler Michaels, Christian Romer, Jacob Crupi and Cece Colton, chose a problem where the team built an 8-inch balsa wood structure weighing no more than 15 grams. The structure had to be tossed by a contraption over a 2-foot tall goal post prior to holding weight. After successfully throwing their structure 10 feet and over the goal post, the Algonquin team slowly placed a total of 730 pounds on their small balsa wood tower.
To attend the World Finals, the Algonquin team had to jump over a few hurdles. First, they passed a regional tournament, which represented Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene counties in New York. Next, the team placed second in States to advance to the World Finals.
The Algonquin team created their skit with an environmental theme. A required character of a “carnival barker” was represented by Earth. Earth asked the audience, “do you realize what your kind has done to me?” He then proceeded to take his audience through a journey of Earth’s existence, starting with the Big Bang.
The Earth character narrated while the rest of the team acted out different humorous historical scenes, including a game played by dinosaurs, a game in ancient Egypt, and a parody of “Shark Tank” with Christopher Columbus trading Small Pox to native leaders for tons of gold.
At the end, Earth tells his audience that actions like the National Park Act were good, while humans have also caused environmental catastrophes like the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, and the team reminds us all that to protect our Earth, there is never a better time.
This experience was one not to be soon forgotten by all of those who participated. The students enjoyed meeting students from different states and countries, playing games, dancing during down time, and trading pins designed to represent other teams. Most of all, students completed a project they worked on for eight months. Together the team achieved greatness, and their community and school district is extremely proud of the results of their efforts.
Thank you to all of the donors who contributed to making this trip a reality! The team is extremely thankful and humbled by the amount of support it received.