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DV wins big at Odyssey meet

by Kathryn Braisted
Published: March 13, 2008

DINGMAN -- Solving complex problems of logic, creativity and spontaneity proved to be no contest for Delaware Valley School District's Odyssey of the Mind teams at the Northeast Pennsylvania Regional Tournament last weekend. At the end of the day, 13 district teams placed high enough to continue to the Pennsylvania State finals in Altoona.

The Saturday, March 8 competition was hosted by the Dingman-Delaware campus' auditoriums, cafeterias and gyms, as 21 neighboring schools participated. The first problem kicked off the schedule at 9 a.m., and the tournament wrapped up around 7 p.m. after awards were handed out.

Schools are separated by division according to grade level. In most cases, elementary schools are division I, middle schools division II, and high schools division III. Teams of up to seven students compete in six different problems: vehicle, technical, classics, structure, theatrical, and primary. Each team receives its problem in early October, and since then builds, tapes, glues, paints, tests and breaks props and mechanisms to prepare the best solution to the problem. Outside construction assistance from parents or adults is prohibited.

This year, vehicle teams were given the problem "Odyssey Road Rally." Participants had to design and build a vehicle to drive through a themed road rally with four checkpoints. At each checkpoint, the vehicle driver and teammates competed in a sports-related objective.

The Delaware Valley Middle School team themed their rally similar to "The Tortoise and the Hare," for which they won second place.

Odyssey technical teams needed to solve a "DinoStories" problem, performing a creative theory behind dinosaur extinction. The team was required to have a dinosaur, a replica dinosaur, a non-dinosaur animal, and a technical simulation of their theory in the performance.

Nicolle Herzog, a sophomore on the DVHS Technical team, experienced her first high school competition and subsequent top place.

"It's all pretty cool because I've never come in first before," said Herzog, who had been involved in Odyssey in elementary and middle school. "I was surprised we won first, but it's still exciting."

Classics teams received a problem titled "The Wonderful Muses." Students had to create and present a play including one of the nine muses of Greek mythology, who had to inspire both a historical figure and a team-created character through original art.

The Classics team of DVHS used a character such as Danny Zuko of "Grease," and finished first in their division.

The fourth problem, "Tee Structure," was given to the structure teams. Teams had to build a structure of balsa wood and glue, which the teams tested by having support weights that balance on golf balls. While two weight-placing members of the team worked with the structure, the remainder produced a golf-related skit.

Dustin Balton, the DVHS structure team's weight-placer, helped design the balsa construction, which held 550 pounds at the regional competition.

"I'm proud of my team and our accomplishments with not only our structure but also our skit, overall style, and spontaneous response," Balton said. "Now we all have something to look forward to: holding the most weight in the state."

The fifth problem "The Eccentrics!" was designed for the theatrical teams. When creating a solution, teams were instructed to act out a play about three unconventional characters who remedy an Earth system dilemma.

The six and final problem was geared towards kindergarten through second grade students, and was non-competitive. Teams in this "Rude Awakenings" problem presented a humorous performance in which a character continuously awoke in a different time or place from where they fell asleep.

Besides the assigned problem, mind gamers were also subjected to a private "spontaneous" problem, which involved quick and logical thinking. The verbal or hands-on questions were solved by five members of each team, and results are factored into their final score.

After points were tallied based on the long-term problems, spontaneous answers, and overall team style, an award ceremony was hosted by Regional Director Gloria Rumberger.

First place medals were awarded to: SES Division I Vehicle team, DVES Division II Vehicle team, DDMS Division II Technical team, DVHS Division III Technical team, DVHS Division III Classics team, DVMS Division II Structure team, DVHS Division III Structure team, and SES Division I Drama team.

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