Friday, April 26, 2019

Windham students heading to Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in Michigan

Ewan O'Shea, Ashylnn Cuthbert, Nick Verrill, Cameron Weeks,
Marek Slomczynski, Nick Jenkins, Adam Slomczynski submitted
By Craig Bailey

For the second time, a team of elementary students from Windham Primary and Manchester Schools is heading to Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. Odyssey of the Mind (OotM) is an international creative problem-solving program that engages students in their learning by allowing their knowledge and ideas to come to life in an exciting, productive environment. Participants build self-confidence, develop life skills, create new friendships, and are able to recognize and explore their true potential. OotM proves that students can have fun while they learn.

This annual event is taking place at Michigan State University, in East Lansing Michigan, from May 22 to 25. Seven energetic students, in grades three to five, along with their fearless coaches/ parents are heading west on Tuesday, May 21 for the 15 to 18-hour drive. The students and their respective grades are: Nick Verrill (5), Nick Jenkins (5), Cameron Weeks (4), Ewan O’Shea (5), Marek Slomczynski (5), Ashlynn Cuthbert (4) and Adam Slomczynski (3). The first five of which previously competed in the OotM World Finals, along with their coach April O’Shea.

Opening Ceremonies will take place on Wednesday, May 22. Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be days filled with competitions and other creative activities. There will be a Creativity Festival, an International Festival, a Coaches & Officials Competition, NASA-sponsored events, and a lot of pin trading!
When the students were asked what they were looking forward to at the event, the returning members emphatically agreed, “pin trading!” Trading Odyssey of the Mind pins (from various states as well as countries) is a tradition that goes back more than 35 years. Millions of pins have been traded and thousands of friendships have been made during this time. Returning students scored pins from such countries as Australia, Canada and Mexico! More specifically, M. Slomczynski said “I am looking forward to seeing a Polish team and teams from other countries.”

The team qualified for World Finals as a result of their solution to their chosen problem: “Hide in Plain Site.” Their 8-minute skit involved four scenes in which a searcher was seeking a sea creature that morphed into many forms, including an octopus with tentacles that moved via the team’s custom-made hydraulic system! Everyone on the team had a character in the play or worked the creature.
When asked how they figured all this out, Cuthbert indicated “We did research using YouTube. YouTube is gold!”

To perfect their performance, Jenkins emphasized, “We have done this well over 12 times!”
They began developing their solution, made almost entirely of recycled materials, in October. Cuthbert mentioned that she made a skirt from fabric scraps. And, their diving suit was made from trash bags. To achieve additional style points, the team made an antique-style phone.

https://www.egcu.orgIn addition to the fun, each member had something to say about the outstanding experience they’ve had with the program, the majority indicating they’ll be doing it again. Verrill mentioned, “You learn that you can make a lot of stuff if you think about it. And, you get a lot of new friendships.” Jenkins reinforced, “This was fun to do because you can be creative with props and jokes and are not required to do one thing.” O’Shea proudly stated, “If you work hard and win you can go to Michigan.” The team emphasized that everyone has their own talents and OotM brings them out. Whether it is writing, building, creating, etc., the whole team works together, as it can’t be just one person’s effort. Slomczynski reinforced this by commentingI have learned that it is a team effort. You have to work together to solve the problem.”

The community of Windham has two opportunities to support the team, by helping to fund their trip to Michigan. At the present time they are about 50% funded, primarily by parents of these outstanding students. To assist, consider visiting their fundraising page at: Alternatively, if you’d like to take in a movie while helping to fund the team, they have partnered with Smitty’s Cinema. You may buy an $11 ticket good for any showing at Smitty’s Windham location on May 5. Half of the ticket price goes to the team. Tickets are available at the Manchester school and seating is on a first come, first served basis. 

As stated by Ewinn, “Odyssey of the Mind confirms we all have talents and the goal is to make them even better.”

Go team!

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