Friday, June 23, 2017

Odyssey of the Mind Team return from 2017 World Finals by Lorraine Glowczak

Five Odyssey of the Mind (OM) students from Windham Primary School (WPS) competed in the 2017 World Finals, held at Michigan State University on May 24 through 27. This is the first time WPS OM World Final participants competed against the more than 825 teams from around the world and they learned much from their four-day adventure.
Three of the five young scholars, Nick Verrill, Nick Jenkins and Ewen O’Shea, were available to share some of their experiences upon their recent return, just before lunch during their last week of classes. (Cameron Weeks and Marek Stomczynski were unavailable at the time of the interview.)
Nicholas Jenkins, Cameron Weeks (sitting), Nicholas Verrill, Ewan O'Shea

“One of the best parts was visiting the booths from all the cities and countries that were competing there,” stated O’Shea.

OM competitions included Long-Term Problems, of which teams create and develop solutions to the problems presented. It also included Spontaneous Problems, where the teams are presented an issue and must solve it in five to eight minutes. The solutions to the problems are presented verbally or hands-on and combination of both. The verbal problem required the team to creatively respond to a question in a verbal and creative manner. The hands-on problems required the teams to impulsively respond to a question by interacting with one another spontaneously. The Combination Spontaneous Problem Solving required both physical and verbal activity. All the competitions were completed without adult assistance.

Although the competition itself was the key focus and purpose of the World Finals, meeting and talking to a diverse group of students from all over the world was also an important part of the learning adventure. “Every group had a pin and we could swap them as keepsakes,” O’Shea shared; “I got a pin from China.”

There were also various other activities amid the competitions.

“The opening ceremonies were my favorite,” Verrill said. “They had beach balls, balloons and even t-shirt cannons that shot t-shirts in the air. It was fun.”

The students also took a moment to take a picture with OM mascot, Omer. “Omar is a racoon because racoons are smart,” O’Shea explained.

“I am so very glad the team had this opportunity to experience World Finals,” stated April O’Shea the OM Team Coach. “From meeting and seeing kids from around the world perform their solutions, to talking to NASA scientists, to attending parades and dance parties, this trip was inspiring. They plan on working even harder next year to earn a trip to the 2018 Finals.”

For those who might be interested in creating a team of their own, the experienced OM team offered a few pieces of advice to success. “It’s really important to keep it [Long-Term and Spontaneous Problems] simple,” Verrill said.

“Stay focused” Jenkins said regarding the ability to succeed in the competitions.
"You can have fun, but you have to be willing to work hard so that you get a good score at the tournament," Weeks stated by email.

Good luck to the 2018 OM Team as they prepare for next year.

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