Since 1978, Odyssey of the Mind problems have challenged students to think outside the box and incorporate creativity into learning. Today, there are thousands of schools participating in Odyssey of the Mind. Teams represent every state in the U.S. and about 25 other countries. The Warwick Valley Central School District has competed in Odyssey of The Mind since 1991.
“On behalf of the school district, I’d like to congratulate the students involved in the OM competition,” said Superintendent Dr. David Leach. “To win at Worlds is a testament to the teams’ collaboration and creative problem-solving skills. Thanks to the parents and coaches who provided support to the teams, and special thanks to district teacher and OM coordinator Donna Denny, whose leadership and dedication were instrumental in the teams’ success.”
Every year, teams compete at a regional level, and those that place first advance to a state-level competition. The top two teams in each category then advance to the World Finals.
Team members work together for months to creatively solve a long-term problem. They must also participate in a spontaneous portion of the competition by generating solutions to a problem they have not seen before. In solving the long-term problem, the students brainstorm and write an original skit, which they perform in front of a panel of trained judges. They also design and build a set themselves out of recycled materials and design their costumes.
This year, two of Warwick’s teams – Sanfordville Elementary and Warwick Valley Middle School – advanced to win first place in their division at the 38th Odyssey of the Mind World Championships at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. More than 800 teams from 15 countries competed in the World Finals – the largest competition of its kind. Both teams happened to choose the same problem in the technical category, which involved building a robot.
The middle school’s team included Kayla Amato, Sasha Blanchard, Stephen D’Ambrosio, Mary Hoey, Kyle Gutierrez and Aiden Woods. They created a PVC robot that wowed the audiences and the judges.
Seventh-grader Aiden Woods said, “I was satisfied with the way the robot turned out. The hardest part was figuring out how to make the robot’s technical actions successful. The many failures along the way just made our team work even harder.”
Sanfordville’s team – Naa Korkoi Aryeetey, Killian Bauman, Ava Gell, Olivia Holland, Alexa Keys, Jay Seward and Julie Woods – chose Mother Goose nursery rhyme characters as their theme. Their skit included a set with moving parts, the use of book pages in their costumes, and a rhyming script. These details earned them the highest creativity award given in the competition.
Commenting on their performance, Coach Rekha Woods said, “This team’s work was exceptional. They went above and beyond in both their robot design and their dramatic presentation. They worked together for countless hours and enjoyed every minute of it.”