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| Floridatoday.com |
Odyssey winners head to Orlando

BY KAUSTUV BASU
FLORIDA TODAY


UCF to host April 14 tournament

Aubrey Johnson's face lit up the moment she heard that her school had qualified for the state final of the Odyssey of the Mind Tournament in Orlando next month.

The fifth-grader from Sunrise Elementary in Palm Bay was one of several hundred students, parents and teachers who crowded an auditorium at the Melbourne campus of Brevard Community College on Saturday evening to find out the results of the Space Coast Odyssey of the Mind tournament.

Johnson, 10, who was a narrator for her team, in the "I'm only thinking of you" category -- a skit about a self-centered character -- said her team had spent many hours practicing.

That explains her joy at being placed first in the category.

"I'm not sure what changes we are going to make to the skit for Orlando," she said.

Odyssey is a nonprofit, international problem-solving program that encourages creative thinking among the young. Ninety-seven teams from Brevard schools took part in the tournament all day Saturday.

By 7 p.m., the list had been winnowed down to 33 in six categories. The selected teams, most composed of seven students each, will take part in the state tournament April 14 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Sharmaine Schenk, regional coordinator for the program, said some of the more interesting contest categories this year were the ones in which a team had to put a balsa wood structure together, disassemble it and then destroy it.

"The around-the-world category was pretty challenging too," Schenk said.

The challenge in that category was to present a performance that included a character traveling around the world who had to stop at three locations with different geographic characteristics.

Pranay Raman, 6, who is in kindergarten at Apollo Elementary in Titusville, was part of a team that took part in the "Time Capsule" category where the team uncovers a capsule filled with five unusual items. The team then has to figure out how these items can be used.

"They pretended they were alien explorers arriving on earth," said his father, Ravi Raman.

The team's coach, Mirtha Howard, said her team had been practicing since October and was delighted that they had placed second in their category.

"I'm extremely excited," she said.


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