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STEM Academy Odyssey Of The Mind Team Advances To World Finals


Many hours of hard work have paid off as the STEM Academy ‘s Odyssey of the Mind (OM) team earned an invitation to the World Finals at Iowa State University.  The team of Mason McGrath, Miles Dennis, Sophie Schmidt, Jared Ott, Eleanor Sitter, Allison Riley, and Alexis Lord became Wisconsin Odyssey of the Mind State Champions on March 22 in Madison by placing first in Division I with their solution for the problem, “The Not-So-Haunted House.”

            The team's problem was to create and present an original performance that included a "pop-up-style" not-so-haunted "house" where four special effects take place. Although the intent of the special effects were to scare, they produced different results instead. The performance required at least one character to experience the special effects and a narrator who relays the experiences to the audience. It also included a surprise ending. The special effects were scored for originality and engineering. The team’s performance included talking furniture, magic acts, and various illusions.

            The team also had to develop four specialty items to be scored in the style category.  The team chose the overall construction, design, and engineering of their team-created furniture as well as team-developed songs for this category.

The final element of Odyssey of the Mind is called spontaneous.  In the spontaneous portion of the competition, students must generate a solution to a never seen problem through quick thinking and working as a team.    

The team’s total combined scored in all three categories earned them the Division I State Championship.

            Students prepared for the competition by studying science, math, art, and the language arts to develop an eight-minute solution to the problem.   The five-month process included the OM team researching special effects, learning about communication, researching music, studying language, practicing creative problem solving, writing a play, and creating building plans.  In addition, students learned how to operate power tools safely.  Students then combined all their acquired knowledge and skills to create a production.

            The students will represent Fond du Lac and the state of Wisconsin at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa on May 26 through May 31.  At the World Finals, they will compete against future world leaders from over 33 countries.

            The team’s journey to Ames will start with further work on their team-created solution and fundraising to make the trip possible.  Anyone wishing to learn more about the team’s odyssey or aid in financing the trip may contact Archie Barribeau at the STEM Academy.

What is Odyssey of the Mind?

Odyssey of the Mind is a non-profit, international creative problem-solving program for students, Kindergarten through College! The philosophy behind the Odyssey of the Mind program is that creativity can be learned. Problems cover many disciplines such as classics, performance, vehicle, structure, and technical. All solutions are done entirely by team members and outside assistance is not allowed! Students learn lifelong skills such as teamwork, project management and divergent thinking. Students learn to examine problems and identify the real challenge without limiting the possible solutions and their potential success. In Odyssey of the Mind there are no wrong answers!

In the photo -

STEM Academy Odyssey of the Mind team members (L-R) Alexis Lord, Allison Riley, Sophie Schmidt, Mason McGrath (back), Eleanor Sitter, Miles Dennis, and Jared Ott ham it up after their performance at State on March 22, 2014, where they took first place in Division 1 which also earned them an invitation to the World Finals in Ames, Iowa.

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