(Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan) –The Wellsville Central School Odyssey of the Mind team participated in the 38th annual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals at Michigan State University from May 24-27. The Problem 5 Division 3 team consists of Skyler Stisser, Rachael Ferraloro, Alysa Daily, Justin Cole, Alyssa Kear, Ashley Reitz, and Braden Scott. Jennifer Parks is their coach. They excelled at the Region 19 Tournament in Wellsville and the State Tournament in Binghamton, where they earned the honor to advance to the 4 day international tournament, representing New York State.
Founded in 1978, Odyssey of the Mind is the largest international creative problem-solving tournament in the world. The program encourages students, from kindergarten through college, to use original and divergent thinking as a team sport. Divergent problems, that is, those with more than one solution, encourage students to learn and lead the way using 21st century skills. By working in teams of up to seven members, participants learn teamwork, the appreciation and understanding of others, and the concept that a group is a more powerful thinking force than an individual.
Over 850 teams from throughout the United States and 13 other countries compete in Odyssey of the Mind. Teams from the US, Canada, China, South Korea, India, Japan, Russia, Poland, Germany, Singapore, Slovakia, Switzerland, Italy, and Mexico traveled to Michigan State University, making this year’s tournament the largest one in 38 years.
Over 20,000 students and supporters, from different cultures and widely varying backgrounds, prove that creativity is universal. The high-energy tournament embodies an international spirit of teamwork. While the competition is fierce, there is also a feeling of camaraderie amongst competitors. At World Finals, teams have an once-in-a-lifetime experience to form friendships that span the globe, through a common goal of being creative and having fun.
The Wellsville team chose to tackle Problem 5, described as-
To Be Continued: A Superhero Cliffhanger: Creativity is being taken away from the world, and it is up to Odyssey teams to rescue it! Teams will present a humorous performance about an unexpected superhero that must save creativity. The superhero will change appearance when it displays its superpowers and go back to blending in with society when not. The performance will also include a clumsy sidekick, a nemesis character, a choreographed battle, and a cliffhanger ending.
Not only do the participants compete within their chosen problem, but teams must also perform well in a “spontaneous problem”, where they solve a new problem on the spot. They must be creative, quick thinking and work well together as a team.
Odyssey of the Mind team members spend months of their free time solving problems as well as developing teamwork skills, independent study, friendships, confidence, and most importantly, improving their brainstorming and problem-solving techniques. They learn new things and utilize their individual strengths to solve problems creatively. Teams also learn how to budget money as there is a cost limit to each problem. Throughout the competition days, wherever you look, there are imaginative costumes, elaborate props, dances, original songs and poetry, creative writing and more. Tournaments are the culmination of months of work from students, coaches, parents and judges who all work together with the common goal of expressing creativity, supporting the arts and learning new things in a fun environment.
It is not possible for a team to be able to attend World Finals without a tremendous group effort from the team members, coaches, school board, community, parents and families. Thanks to the supportive Wellsville school district and communities for their commitment to their students. These local teenagers are inspirational role models for younger students who hope to some day repeat their successes. This team has represented their school, community, Region 19, and New York State in an admirable way. The team’s success would not have been possible without a long term commitment from their dedicated coach, Jennifer Parks. Thank you and congratulations to all on an outstanding accomplishment.
For more information visit odysseyofthemind.com, nysoma.org or contact Jean Oliverio at firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-376-8323.
By: Jean Oliverio, CABOCES Student Programming