Friday, April 7, 2017

WPS Odyssey of the Mind students earn a chance to compete in the 2017 World Finals by Lorraine Glowczak

Last Saturday, April 1, three of the four Division I - Odyssey of the Mind (OM) teams from Windham Primary School (WPS) participated in the state competitions at Biddeford High School in Biddeford. One team from those three Division I students placed second and will have a chance to compete in the 2017 World Finals to be held at Michigan State University, May 24 to 27. This is the first time that students from WPS have qualified for the World Finals. 
The five winning students with Principal, Dr. Rhoads

The five winning students, who are all first-time participants in Odyssey of the Mind, will show their creative and imaginative prowess, providing solutions to original problems that will be presented to them the day of their competition.

More than 825 teams from around the world participated in last year’s competition. The five young scholars from WPS are beyond excited to compete this year, giving their innovative skills a whirl. 

The competition incorporates two areas of challenges the young competitors must solve. The two categories are: 1) Long-Term Problems; and 2) Spontaneous Problems. The students have been working together since December to create and practice their long-term problem solution and will present that at the competition. Additionally, they will be given a spontaneous problem to solve. Teams are scored on a combination of the two major components, which also includes a style component. Certain aspects of their long-term project can be judged and scored for their creativity.

Per the OM website, “Long-Term Problems are the engines that propel Odyssey of the Mind. Teams select their problem when they join the program and spend weeks or months to create and develop their solution. Each team member will find a role to play in the many stages of problem-solving, including brainstorming, artwork, set design, technical design, writing sketches and much more!”
Ewan O’Shea, a third grade student, explained the long-term problem they chose to prove their innovative skills. “We made a robot that can produce four different actions in funny ways.”
“And, I made one of the robot’s arms and one half of the other arm,” second grader Cameron Weeks chimed in. “I am having a blast,” he stated about his participation in OM.

The spontaneous problem contains one of three types. They include verbal, hands-on, or a combination of the two challenges. The verbal problem requires the team to creatively respond to a question in a verbal and creative manner. The hands-on problem requires the teams to build or complete a task with items provided for them. The combination spontaneous problem solving requires both physical and verbal activity; challenging the students to work together as a team. All the competitions are completed without adult assistance.

“We must solve a problem in five to eight minutes,” third grader, Nicholas Verrill explained of the spontaneous contest.

In regards to meeting others at the World Finals, the five students have many queries. “I wonder what language some of the teams will speak,” Nicholas Jenkins, a third grade student asked.

The team is not without guidance. April O’Shea is the team coach, a first for her as well, and she speaks fondly of the students she has guided since fall. “I am so very proud of the hard work and perseverance the team has shown throughout this journey,” O’Shea said. “It would be amazing to have them see it through to the World Finals. We are very excited and grateful for the opportunity.”

There is one more challenge that the team must face, and that is the task of raising funds. “The team has set up a “gofundme page” ( to help with travel expenses to Michigan State University,” O’Shea stated. “They will also be out in the community fundraising. Donations can be sent to the Windham Primary School. Include ‘Odyssey’ in the memo of your check or money order.” 

The satisfaction the five students have had throughout the year as they participated in OM was expressed by all. “My favorite thing about participating in OM is being a part of this whole team,” stated Marek Stomczynski, grade three.

Best of luck goes to the team of five, as they raise the funds needed to travel to Michigan and compete in May.

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