It’s about having amazing experiences and adventures and building friendships, all with the goal of solving a problem. It’s Odyssey of the Mind, a worldwide competition for kids in kindergarten through grade 12 that emphasizes teamwork and thinking outside the box. It allows students to showcase their engineering, technical, performing arts and visual arts skills.
Abington Heights Middle and High School Odyssey of the Mind teams will travel to Michigan State University in East Lansing for the world finals, “worlds.”
“This program is focused on teaching problem-solving skills, brainstorming, creativity and risk taking — all of that in a team environment,” said Victor Pituch, tournament director. “The skills the participants will acquire will last a lifetime. Those skills will be used to help solve problems in all aspects of their life.”
The team from Abington Heights Middle School won first place in their age division and problem category. They competed in the problem called “It’s Time Omer.” The team created and presented an original performance about time travelers who discover the inspiration for great works of art and how three works of art positively impact the world.
The team members are Kylie Augis, Jules Colombo, Ashley Hamilton, Ava Leach, Emily McCabe and Grace Phillips. They are coached by Gina McCabe and Ruth Colombo.
The Abington Heights High School team will be going to worlds for a second year, after winning the regional and state-level competitions. This team members are Kyra Beckish, Savannah Blaum, Sydney Crum, Isabella “Izzy” Dikeman, Clara Joy “C.J.” Miller and Ariana Wisenburn. They are coached by Tara Crum.
About 1,200 students from 122 schools and organizations across Pennsylvania competed at state finals.
About 6,000 students will be competing at worlds, from countries including Canada, China, Germany, India and Poland.
“I moved here from Texas. The Odyssey of the Mind team asked me to join,” said Miller. “It is an awesome experience. It is different and I have never done anything like this before.”
“We had to design and make three separate vehicles that travel on a track which we also made,” said Sydney Crum. “We could not ask for any outside assistance. We had eight minutes to complete the problem and had $145 to spend. This shows how creative we can be.”
“Each vehicle has to leave from a different level in the direction of a parking garage. The vehicle needs to get to a designated spot known as the secret meeting place,” said coach Crum. “The vehicle is supposed to trigger something to stop anything following it. This happens two more times. The problem is finished when all three vehicles make it to the goal and each vehicle blocks anything that could follow it.”
The team members make costumes and write songs.
“The dress I am wearing is made from coffee filters and Splenda packets,” said Dikeman.
The Abington Heights team had a buddy team last year and will be paired with a buddy team again this year.
“We met with the Singapore team and became friends,” said Blaum. “We still keep in touch with them.”
“It was interesting to see how different their culture is from ours,” said Beckish.
“It has been a treasured experience to go to worlds twice,” said Wisenburn.