| Lockport Union-Sun & Journal |
WILSON: Area schools send brightest on odyssey

By Bill Wolcott/wolcottb@gnnewspaper.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

WILSON -- Seven Thomas Marks Elementary School fifth graders are preparing to save the globe in the 27th Annual Odyssey of the Mind on Saturday at Wilson Central School.

The Odyssey of the Mind teaches students to learn creative problem-solving methods while having fun in the process. Coach Maxanne Rees is getting her crew ready to perform in the Eccentrics category at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Seven area schools will send teams who will fill up the high school with creative projects. Activities begin at 8 a.m. The Hill Brothers will be entertaining from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Ceremonies are set for 1 p.m.

Lockport, DeSales, West Seneca, Royalton-Hartland, Holly, Medina and Wilson will send teams. The 10 first place winners will advance to the state championships in Binghamton on March 29. The program helps teachers generate excitement in their students.

Mercedes Rees, Kaitlyn Wilson, Megan DiLaura, Austin Daul, Alex Peese, Zach Sarratori and Joe Bowman came up with the script and the characters.

"They learn a lot about teamwork," Maxanne Rees said. "When you have six of the brightest children it's hard for them at first. Then they compromise and work together."

The characters include the president of the United State, Miss U.S. Almost, Tom Turtle, rock musician Sterling Silver and a genius to keeps them on track.

The children have been working on the skit from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Fridays since October. The NASA sponsored long-term problem includes the atmosphere, cryosphere, geosphere or hydrosphere. The Thomas Marks script has to do with pollution and global warming.

A spontaneous exam by judges follows and coaches can't be in the room when the children are questioned. "They surprise me with the answers they come up with," Rees said. "The judge gives them a situation and they have to give quick answers. The kids are totally on their own."

The creative problem-solving process rewards thinking outside of the box. Students from elementary schools to college age participate. Twenty-nine teams will compete in seven divisions.

Students learn how to identify challenges and to think creatively to solve problems. They are free to express their ideas and suggestions without fear of criticism.

Sue Tomascewski of Orleans-Niagara BOCES is the Region 16 director.

Contact reporter Bill Wolcott at 439-9222, Ext. 6246.

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