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Dixon Dinos roar into state finals


Seven Dixon Elementary School students know why dinosaurs are extinct: Their hard-partying ways led to an avalanche that buried them in boulders.

At least that was the explanation that earned the team of students a first-place win in their age group in the regional North Carolina Odyssey of the Mind Contest, which was held last month.

The team - comprised of fourth-graders Ashlind Browne, Walter Maready and Benjamin Carpenter and fifth-graders Caitlin Sims, Kevin Cagle, Ivy Wagner and Alex-Ann Price - is one of about 135 advancing to compete today in the state finals at East Carolina University.

The students, under the direction of art teacher Beth Howard, said they started working on the project right after the Christmas break.

"The whole purpose of this is thinking outside the box, and teamwork," Howard said.

The Dixon team, like their competitors, was required to create and present a humorous performance about its theory on what caused dinosaurs to become extinct and give a technical presentation of the extinction event. Their presentation required changes of scenery by technical means, a costumed dinosaur character in the skit and a replica of the dinosaur character. A different animal character, in costume, that survives extinction must also be included. Part of the performance needs to take place in the Mesozoic Era.

Set design and costume expenditures are restricted by rules.

Howard said the children have eight minutes from set-up of their scenery and props to completion of their performance. Coaches and anxious parents sit on the sidelines and watch once the skit begins and cannot help.

Dixon's "The Rocks are Rolling" presentation begins with questions from a loggerhead hatchling and her grandfather about a fossil she found on the beach.

Grandfather loggerhead tells the story his ancestors passed down about the green turtles living during the Mesozoic Era in the Land of Panea.

He explains that one day the earth started shaking and, during a Big Daddy Dino and the Rapping Raptors concert at the Tar Pit Club, the mountaintop comes down on the club and land, covering the ground with an avalanche of boulders. He tells her the ground split apart, forming different continents. The turtles survived by jumping into the sea and diving to deep water, but the dinosaurs did not.

The Odyssey of the Mind award recognizes individuals or teams who demonstrate outstanding sportsmanship, exemplary behavior and exceptional creativity and talent.

The second part of the competition involves spur-of-the-moment thinking and collaborative skills. The team chooses five members who must respond to a spontaneous problem.

Teams that place at state level are invited to participate in the annual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, where they compete with teams from around the world.

Contact Topsail area reporter Suzanne Ulbrich at sulbrich@freedomenc.com or 910-219-8466. Visit www.jdnews.com to comment on this report.

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