| The News-Press |
Sunshine Elementary sends 3 teams to state level Odyssey

By Silvia Guzman
Originally posted on March 21, 2007

Three teams from Sunshine Elementary School's Odyssey of the Mind program will compete at the state level April 14 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

The Sunshine Elementary teams, made up of fourth- and fifth-graders, competed against students from 160 Southwest Florida schools gathered at Fort Myers High School March 3 for the regional Odyssey of the Mind competitions.

Sunshine Elementary is the only school in east Lee County going to the state competition. Teams from 17 other Lee County elementary and middle schools will also go.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational competition that challenges students from kindergarten through college to think creatively and come up with solutions to problems.

"Each problem involves some sort of play that shows the problem solving," said Cindi Priebe, fourth-grade teacher and coach for one of the Sunshine Elementary teams. "The projects are a lot of fun."

Priebe hopes at least one of the teams makes it to the world competition. Teams need to place high in the state competition to go to the world competition, which is May 23-26 at Michigan State University.

Students from Canada, China, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Poland, Singapore and Uzbekistan participate in that event.

Last year, one of the Sunshine Elementary teams won second place in its category in the world competition.

Students work on their own. Coaches cannot help by making suggestions.

"We can only help them develop their creativity and learn how to brainstorm ideas," Priebe said. "They do all the work including making the props, costumes and designing the play without outside assistance."

Four Sunshine Elementary teams participated in the regional competition. There were six categories, with projects including building vehicles, telling a story with a large stage book and a small book, making a structure with balsa wood to balance and support weights, and creating a story involving a traveler and places to visit.

The skits are eight minutes long and have specific requirements.

Two teams placed second in their categories, one got third place and another placed sixth.

For the Large and Small of It team, which placed second, the students had to create large and small versions of a book.

The story line was about Pluto no longer being a planet, and how to enlarge Pluto so it can become a planet. Pluto the dog gets in the way and also becomes enlarged.

The students worked on the project for four months.

"We brainstormed and voted for the best story, and we also decided on the best ending," said fifth-grader Jeannette Soto.

Fifth-grader Billy Kalstrom came up with the idea of writing about Pluto.

"He has the crazy imagination," said Scott Gislason, referring to Billy.

Scott came up with a string and pull device to enlarge two happy faces, taking care of the mechanical requirement for the project.

All students worked on designing the book, making their costumes, and drawing and painting everything.

"It was fun, and I just liked working with everyone," said fifth-grader Melody Lindo.

"The best part was acting," Billy said.

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