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Journey from South Texas to Groesbeck is an Odyssey of the Mind

Nannette Kilbey-Smith 19.MAR.08
Weeks of preparation, fine-tuning their projects, and plenty of frayed nerves paid off for 13 local teams as they participated in the Odyssey of the Mind regional competition in Groesbeck March 8.

Tension was high as the teams from Floresville Elementary School, La Vernia Primary School, and the San Antonio H.E.R.O. (Home Education Resources and Opportunities), a home-school group, gathered at Groesbeck High School, approximately 40 miles from Waco, to impress judges from across the region in this academic, critical-thinking, problem-solving contest. Despite hours of preparation, grueling practice schedules, and fine-tuning their performances, no one could predict how the teams would fare against stiff competition. The local teams included children from kindergarten through high school.

Students around the world, from kindergarten through college, participate in Odyssey of the Mind, a competitive, creative problem-solving program founded in 1978 in New Jersey. Applying creativity, participants solve problems ranging from building mechanical devices to presenting interpretations of literary classics. Competition progresses from local and state to world levels.

" ... in Odyssey of the Mind problems, there is no right answer," the program's Web site states. Instead, participants are rewarded for how they apply their knowledge, skills, and talents. All projects must stay within a budget; participants must track their expenses of both time and money. Teams in several age divisions choose one of five given problems to solve and present their solutions in organized competition.

Several area teams will progress to state competition in Houston in April as a result of placing first, second, or third in the regional competition. The La Vernia Primary School "Odyssey Road Rally" team placed third in its competition. Taking first place in the Division 3 "Dino Stories" contest was San Antonio H.E.R.O. Team A. Local teams swept the board in the Division 1 "The Wonderful Muses" competition, with the Floresville Elementary School Team B taking first place and the school's Team A placing second, with a team from La Vernia Primary School taking third place. San Antonio H.E.R.O. Team B was awarded second place in the Division 2 "The Wonderful Muses" contest.

In the Division 2 "The Eccentrics" contest, San Antonio H.E.R.O. Team A took first place and will compete in Houston. The Floresville Elementary School Team B placed second in the Division 1 "The Eccentrics" competition, with the team from La Vernia Primary School in third place.

In the non-competing portion of the program, the "Rude Awakenings" team from La Vernia Primary School received maximum points for its presentation; members were awarded trophies and medals for their efforts.

In the true spirit of the competition, the La Vernia Primary School's "The Eccentrics" team received an "Omer's Award" certificate. Despite their backdrop collapsing and team members having to prop it in place throughout their presentation, the team managed to deliver its performance without anyone losing their cool -- or their place in the script. Omer awards are presented to coaches, team members, parents, or others who serve as examples or role models by their actions or words.

All competitors embodied the Odyssey of the Mind pledge: "Let me be a seeker of knowledge. Let me travel uncharted paths and let me use my creativity to make the world a better place in which to live."

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