Curtin Intermediate School’s Odyssey of the Mind teams headed to Worlds

Odyssey of the Mind is noted for helping students solve problems and this school year trying to figure out how to work as team while working apart due to a pandemic added another layer of problem solving to the equation.

Two teams from Curtin Intermediate School successfully managed the hours of ZOOM strategizing and creating, placing second at the state level and are headed to World finals.

According to Spring Moore, coach for one of the teams, at the beginning of the school year teams could choose to participate totally virtually or they could opt for a more traditional model which would give them the option of meeting in person if allowed. Curtin’s teams chose the traditional model.

“We met via ZOOM right up until the last two weeks before regionals. Kids built props individually at their own houses or there were a couple of times one or two kids got together at their own houses still with masks, still distanced and worked together on some things,” she said.

“Even then we would usually pop the ZOOM on so that they could still communicate with each other. They would hold things up and say ‘this is what we’re doing,’ “ she added.

One of the rules of OM is that the students must do the work themselves. Coaches are not permitted to be involved in the problem-solving.

The teams stayed virtual until it came time to practice in preparation for the video which needed to be made to submit for the competition. Moore said that although provisions had been made for teams to do their performances via ZOOM, by that point the kids were back in school, in-person five days a weeks and teams felt they could get together safely while following mitigation protocols.

“We did meet the last two weeks before regionals and the last two weeks before states,” Moore said.

In the beginning, Moore said, the kids were excited just to see each others faces, even via ZOOM, because at that point the district was in the hybrid model. They kids weren’t necessarily even seeing each other because some were remote.

“There was still the level of excitement. It still worked at the level of brainstorming stage. When it got time to plan things it was so hard because some of it is so concrete. We’re literally finding household items and holding them up in front of the screen as kids are trying to explain things to each other like how they envision things happening — drawing pictures and sharing the screen,” she said.

“I’m pretty sure there were points of frustration with that because it definitely adds another layer of problem solving, but these kids are just so resilient. The whole program is really built on the idea of flexibility and problem-solving and creativity and teamwork so we really tried to approach it as yet another facet of the problem we had to solve,” Moore said.

The students built things, which would be used during the performance, in pieces knowing that when they could meet in person, everything would need to be assembled at that point. At times school closures because of COVID required props to be moved from school to school.

“It did add another layer and it did definitely make it more difficult,” she said. But, the kids really did see the bigger picture and they were so thankful to still be able to compete, even in a modified way,” she said.

The World competition will be held virtually during the month of May or teams can choose to participate in person June 11 and 12 in Orlando. Moore said that due to the district’s health and safety plan, the teams are waiting to see if they have permission to attend in person.

“We would love to compete in person, but if we end up having to compete virtually, we will embrace that as well,” she said.

Members of the Curtin teams: Problem 3 Div. 2 are Lynnae Campbell, Ava Carter, Cooper Gutberlet, Lily Hamilton, Asher McClelland and Daniel Turner, Spring Moore, coach; Problem 5 Div. 1, Emily Frank, Taylor Rockey, Cooper Gutberlet, Alex Vail, Reayden Harpster and Chaedyn Lockard, April Frank, coach.


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