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Odyssey of the Mind entrants prove up to challenge
Creativity, hard work required of about 500 student participants


With its strict requirements and need for a lot of creativity and brain power, Odyssey of the Mind isn't recommended for the weak or dull.

But about 500 Fort Collins students of all ages proved they were ready for the challenge that awaited them at the Fort Collins competition Saturday at Fossil Ridge High School.

The competition gave some of Fort Collins' creative kids a chance to show off their talents building vehicles and structures as well as presenting performances.

"It gives them a chance to learn that they are the people who can turn that spark on in their brains," said Candi Beri, co-director of Odyssey of the Mind.

In Odyssey of the Mind, student teams have the choice of competing in five categories, including mechanical vehicle building. They base the theme on a problem to do with the classics - everything from literature to art; a performance revolving around a specific theme; a structure theme where teams build something out of only balsa wood and glue; and a technical performance theme where students make innovative contraptions.

Although students are allowed to have parent coaches, they have to do everything on their own, including making costumes, setting pieces and building their own structures.

"It all has to be kid ideas. (Parents) can't give us hints or anything," said Anne Lonowski, 10, of Riffenburgh Elementary School.

Lonowski's team member Robbie Downing, 11, said the competition gives him a chance to show off his acting skills.

"I like acting, and I think that's the case for a lot of our team," Downing said.

Downing said it was hard for him and his team to come up with creative solutions to their performance problem of going around the world in 8 minutes, but Downing said his team found it easy once they got the ball rolling.

"At first, we don't know what to do, but then we start winding into it," Downing said.

Isaac Bowen, 10, of Stove Prairie Elementary, said he enjoys Odyssey of the Mind because of the difficult aspects.

"I like it because it's a challenge from the beginning," Bowen said.

Beri, who's been coaching for 19 years, said the awards show is the best part because every participant gets a ribbon.

"You should see their faces; they are just radiant," Beri said. "They are all winners just to have gotten this far."

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