Local Odyssey of the Mind teams advance to the state tournament

BERWICK — A dozen area schools, from across eight counties, attended the North Central Regional Odyssey of the Mind competition held March 2, at Berwick Area School District. Over 300 students competed on 50 teams at the regional tournament, which is one of six regional tournaments held across the state.

Thirty teams qualified to advance to the statewide competition that will be held April 6 at Pocono Mountain East Schools near Swiftwater. Teams that qualify at the state tournament will advance to World Finals on May 22 to 25 at Michigan State University.

Teams are typically organized by school, and students are divided based on age: primary, kindergarten through second grade; Division 1, elementary school; Division 2, middle school; and Division 3, high school. Teams worked for months to prepare for the tournament which is based on innovation, creativity and teamwork.

“Odyssey of the Mind allows the students to develop their creative problem-solving skills while having fun,” Karyl Otruba, the regional director for North Central PA Odyssey of the Mind, said. “Students have the power to apply their knowledge and make their problem solutions come to life in amazing ways.”

Odyssey of the Mind is an international competition that involves teams of up to seven students working on one of five “long-term” This years’ five problems included:

• Designing, building and running a vehicle that can be disassembled to fit in a pair of suitcases and reassembled in order to “save the day.”

• Designing and building a team-made mechanical creature that hides in plain sight and will change appearance three times before revealing its true identity.

• Creating and presenting an original performance about Leonardo DaVinci’s workshop and recreating some of his most famous works.

• Designing, building and testing a structure made of only balsa wood and glue that will balance and support as much weight as possible after being tossed across the room as part of a carnival game.

• Creating and presenting a humorous performance about a sneaky character that distracts others with silly arguments while trying to take control.

Primary teams had to create and present a performance about a museum of their own, with three original exhibits, guided by a tour guide, who meets an artist and the curator.

Each team has only eight minutes to perform their solution and must stay within a very small budget so creative use or reuse, of materials is essential. The teams present their solution to a panel of judges who will score the teams based on the parameters of the problem.

Teams also enter a room without their coaches, are given a problem by the judges and have between four and eight minutes to solve it with whatever they are given.

“We are so proud as a district that all eight of our district teams are advancing to states. Their hard work, collaboration and creativity are truly to be commended!” said Spring Moore, coach and spokesperson for all Williamsport School District teams.

Allen Horn from Montgomery was the recipient of the first annual NCPA Spirit Award for his years of dedication to the Odyssey of the Mind program in Montgomery and the entire region.

“For the second straight year, all of the teams from the Montgomery Area School District who competed in the regional tournament have qualified for states, said Craig Miller coordinator for Montgomery’s team.