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| The Times-Tribune |
Students compete in Odyssey regional

BY JOE SYLVESTER
STAFF WRITER
03/04/2007



CLARKS SUMMIT -- As their classmates acted out a skit in "Literal Land," Sean Albright and Tom Jubon gingerly slid barbell weights down on a small metal pole and piled them on a box. Inside that wooden box, their tiny frame box of balsa wood, weighing less than 18 grams, was enduring the increasing weight.

The Abington Heights Middle School students were testing the strength of the box they assembled on the spot.

"Our structure held 125 pounds," Sean said after their performance at the Odyssey of the Mind regional tournament at Abington Heights High School on Saturday.

Their classmates' skit had to do with boxes as well. They were in and out of the boxes they had turned into props.

"We were all in boxes," said Nicole Stefko, another member of the team of six sixth-graders and one fifth-grader. "We popped out."

Teacher Christine Neary's students participated in a structure problem called "Out of the Box Balsa," in which team members had to design, build and test a structure.

The problem is one of five categories the 60 teams of students from 25 regional elementary, middle and high schools were given to solve for the competition, said OM regional director Gloria Rumberger, from the Delaware Valley School District. The solutions involve a skit with props the students create from cardboard boxes decorated with paint and anything from beads to juice boxes.

Other problems include a "vehicle" problem; one using a technical device; creating a character traveling to different settings, and an original, humorous performance.

In addition to those eight-minute performances, the students had to compete in spontaneous problems given to them at the competition. Those problems could require students to come up with as many examples of a color as possible, with more points for more creative answers, or solve a science problem.

The problems test verbal or mechanical skills or both. For example, the students may have to create rhymes using the names of animals or build a tower of pasta that is scored on height and strength.

The top two teams in each category go on to the state level in Altoona on April 14. State winners go on to the OM world finals, May 23-26 at Michigan State University.

Contact the writer: jsylvester@timesshamrock.com



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