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Delaware schools: Odyssey of the Mind Tournament gets kids fired up

BEAR -- Laura Hughes, a fourth-grader at West Park Place Elementary School, admitted Saturday to round-the-clock enthusiasm for her team's effort in the regional River Region Odyssey of the Mind Tournament.

"This morning, I was reciting the script when I woke up," said Laura, who spent months preparing with her schoolmates and part of her 10th birthday among the hundreds of students, parents and organizers who jammed the hallways and classrooms of Caravel Academy for the event.

Saturday's competition was the first northern regional runoff for the 31-year-old Delaware Odyssey of the Mind, a program that organizers believe now has more participants per capita than any other, anywhere. Some 126 teams from schools north of Smyrna took part, just weeks after about 100 school-based teams came together for the southern Delaware Bay Region tournament.

Bill Combs, associate director of the group sponsoring the state Odyssey, Delaware Creative Activities and Problem Solving, said participation has been growing by 6 percent to 7 percent annually.

"It gives them an opportunity to learn that each individual has strengths and weaknesses, and in a group they can pull together and produce something great," Combs said. "It's 100 percent kid-created. They produce the solutions to the problems and they can exhibit any level of creativity, and having that freedom, I think, just excites these kids."

In one classroom, several Maclary Elementary School students shouted an energetic "Dino-Mite" as they launched into their original skit of the same name. The group's problem was to deliver a presentation with at least three distinct changes, silly and serious characters and a return to the starting point with a surprise ending.

Their solution was a short, circle-of-life play -- egg, teenager, adult, egg -- focused on decidedly civilized and modern dinosaurs, symbolized by homemade, elaborate headgear and acted out at one point in mother-daughter friction over trips to the "Mall-cano."

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Her son, Zachary, played an egg-hungry pterodactyl in the play, and was later pressed into service as a winged and beaked minister marrying off a grown-up dinosaur.

"Just the idea of being on a team is good, and the idea of problem-solving," The' said.

The top three teams chosen by judges in each of the divisions go on to state finals, scheduled this year for April 2 at the University of Delaware. Winners are eligible to compete later in the World Finals, to be held in late May at the University of Maryland, College Park.

DELAWARE ODYSSEY OF THE MIND RIVER REGIONAL WINNERS

Extreme Mousemobiles, Division 1

First: Olive B. Loss Elementary School Team A; Second: Linden Hill Elementary School; Third: North Star Elementary School

Extreme Mousemobiles, Division 2

First: The Independence School; Second: H.B. du Pont Middle School Team A; Third: MOT Charter School Team A

As Good As Gold...berg, Division 1

First: Silver Lake Elementary School; Second: Newark Charter School; Third (tie): Maclary Elementary School; Third (tie): Wilmington Montessori School

As Good As Gold...berg, Division 2

First (tie): Caravel Academy Team A; First (tie): The Independence School; Second: Cab Calloway School of the Arts; Third: H.B. du Pont Middle School Team A

Le Tour Guide, Division 1

First: The Independence School; Second: Linden Hill Elementary; Third: Brick Mill Elementary

Le Tour Guide, Division 2

First: H.B. du Pont Middle School Team A; Second (tie): Alfred G. Waters Middle School Team A; Second (tie): Skyline Middle School Team A; Third: MOT Charter School Team A

Unhinged Structure, Division 1

First: Linden Hill Elementary School; Second: Caravel Academy Team A; Third: Claymont Elementary School Team A

Unhinged Structure, Division 2

First: Conrad School of Science; Second: H.B. du Pont Middle School Team A; Third: MOT Charter School Team A

Full Circle, Division 1

First: Linden Hill Elementary School; Second: Brick Mill Elementary School; Third: Maclary Elementary School

Full Circle, Division 2

First: Skyline Middle School Team A; Second (tie): The Independence School; Second (tie): MOT Charter School Team A; Third: P.S. du Pont Elementary School


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