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Odyssey of the Mind comes to Ogdensburg

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North country students of all ages put their creativity and ingenuity to play Saturday in the Region 8 Odyssey of the Mind competition.

Nearly 100 students from Ogdensburg Free Academy, Gouverneur and Saranac Lake central schools solved a variety of problems — from building cars to interpreting literary classics. The goals of the competition are for students to learn about cooperative teamwork, evaluate ideas, make decisions and create solutions.

Five problems posed to different levels of competition were: “Driver’s Test,” where teams design, build and drive a vehicle that will travel a course at least two times while a student driver attempts to complete tasks needed to pass a driver’s test; “The Not-So-Haunted House” where teams must create and present an original performance that includes a “pop-up-style,” not-so-haunted “house,” in which four special effects take place; “The Stackable Structure,” in which teams design and build a structure made up of separate components stacked on top of one another; “It’s How We Rule,” where teams create and present an original humorous performance that includes a replication of a historic royal court on their own team-created court, set at a different time and place; and “Seeing Is Believing,” in which teams are asked to create and present an original performance about a community that feels threatened by something in a location they have never visited.

All parts of the students’ solutions to these problems, from to choreography, scripts, songs, wardrobe and set design, come from themselves.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students in Team OMG from John F. Kennedy Elementary School, Ogdensburg, had been preparing their haunted house since November.

“It’s extremely tough,” Sloane Ryan said. “It challenges your technical and creative skills.”

The live-action haunted house was put together using painted backdrops, Lego robotics and recycled tires. The girls then performed about an eight-minute skit for judges.

“It was meant to be perceived as scary, but really wasn’t,” Paige Shaver said. “It was a lot of fun.”

“We used a lot of sound

effects and visuals for appeal,” Abigail Dishaw said.

The team has competed twice at the state level, and placed fourth overall in 2013.

In addition to the planned performance challenge, teams competed in timed “spontaneous” challenges, such as a technical challenge or a challenge using balsa wood to create structures.

“I think what kids really get out of it is teamwork and creativity,” Regional 8 Odyssey of the Mind Coordinator Vanessa Hahn said. “They love the creativity or as we say in Odyssey, ‘thinking outside the box.’ They also get a sense of sportsmanship when they compete against one another and root for other teams.”

Ms. Hahn said she is looking for more teams to participate next year.

Fifteen, seven-member teams from the three districts participated this year.

Finalists will participate in the New York State Odyssey of the Mind Competition on April 12 at SUNY Binghamton.

They could also earn the opportunity to compete in the World Finals, to be held May 28 through 31 at Iowa State University.

Odyssey of the Mind
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