| Montgomery News |
North Penn fields 200 for Odyssey of the Mind challenge

By Linda Stein
The same problem but different solutions. That's the genius of Odyssey of the Mind.

About 200 North Penn students are gearing up to compete March 19 in the Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Odyssey of the Mind competition.

"I'm just thrilled," said Amy Ryan Faga, a recently retired gifted support teacher who started the first OM team in North Penn at General Nash Elementary School in 1996.

The program, which teaches creative problem solving, has mushroomed.

"It's a lot of fun and they learn a lot," said Maria Strohl, a parent who coaches the OM team for her son, Jakob, a third-grader at Nash. "Part of Odyssey of the Mind is being really creative. It's such a great experience. There's no right answer. They make their costumes, their props, everything is all kid-driven."

Morgan Wiemusz, 15, of Montgomeryville, has been involved with OM since kindergarten.

Now she's coaching an OM team, with the help of her mom, Joanne Wiemusz, a long-time OM coach, for her graduation project, a North Penn first.

"I learned how to think not inside the box, to think more originally," said Morgan Wiemusz, about her years with OM. "When you're presented with a problem, you think of different ways to do it. The kids are great. They're a lot of fun. We joke around and laugh."

The second-graders that she's coaching are working on a problem where a character wants to make money three times and fails but on the fourth time is successful.

The kids act out skits of how they've decided to solve their problems.

Odyssey of the Mind began with challenges that Sam Micklus, an industrial design professor at Rowan University, gave to his students.

Public interest led to the development of a creative problem-solving competition for school students.

There are strict guidelines for the children, who must solve the problems themselves. The teams lose points for any help from adults.


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