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Cerebral explorers unveil heady discoveries


Explorers took over the gymnasium at Laurel Elementary, bringing in a Venus Hydra Trap, a spaceship, time capsule and a boat that resembles an umbrella.

The children were the primary Odyssey of the Mind team members at Laurel Elementary, 100 E. Locust St.

The team practiced Tuesday for today's competition at Fossil Ridge High School, 5400 Zielger Road, and is comprised of a group of kindergarten through second-graders. Following this year's requirements, the students created a performance in which they found a time capsule and created the items in it.

"It's to develop their creative thinking," said Carrie Craig, assistant coach of the primary team at Laurel Elementary. "Instead of looking at something in black and white, they look and see what else it could be."

Sam Micklus, Odyssey of the Mind founder, created the organization at Rowan University in 1978 in New Jersey. He challenged his students to create items such as vehicles without wheels. The main idea behind the program is to reward the thought process and risks involving the solution over its success.

Problems given to Odyssey of the Mind groups fall into five categories, which change yearly. Those categories are mechanical/vehicle, classics, performance, structure and technical performance. This year, the competition is based on performance.

"We could make something of any time period about a group of explorers," said Hunter Craig, a Laurel second-grader.

The 10 students created a three-minute skit about a group of explorers that travels to another planet, finds a time capsule and discovers what it has inside.

"The kids came up with a new planet, the name and all the objects in the time capsule and what they are on their own," Carrie Craig said.

Items the students created include a Venus "Hydra" Trap made out of aluminum foil, an umbrella that transforms into a boat, makeup compacts that pose as mini-computers and a round book that folds like an accordion.

Coached by Lee Lahti and Carrie Craig, each student plays a character in the skit.

"My brother keeps wanting me to play video games, but I keep saying I need to practice," said Isaiah Martinez, a second-grader on the team.

The students have worked on the skit weekly since mid-January.

Greta Richardson, a second-grader, and brother Wyatt Richardson, a kindergartener, are a little nervous about their performance.

"I don't want to mess up," Greta said. "My character has a lot of lines."

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