| The Fort Leavenworth Lamp |
Patton teams advance in Odyssey of Mind

Melissa Bower | Staff Writer
Two Patton Junior High School teams will represent Fort Leavenworth in the Odyssey of the Mind 2008 World Finals this summer.

Odyssey of the Mind is a problem-solving competition that involves performance, creativity and teamwork. Both teams advancing to World Finals chose "The Eccentrics" as their long-term problem. The rules require students to prepare a performance about eccentric characters who solve a problem involving an earth system. Teams also have to solve a spontaneous problem, demonstrating their impromptu acting skills.

Four Fort Leavenworth teams also competed in the Kansas Odyssey of the Mind State Competition March 29 - one from Eisenhower Elementary School and three from Patton.

Tammy Schatzel coached two of her children's teams this year, one at Patton and one at Eisenhower. The Patton team of mixed eighth- and seventh-grade students placed first out of seven teams from across the state.

Schatzel said students put an incredible amount of time and energy into their Odyssey of the Mind competition. The students must write their own script, construct costumes and practice a short play that solves a problem designed for this year's competition. Schatzel as a coach can offer almost no outside help.

"For a lot of these kids, it's the first time being part of a team," she said. "You're part of something and you can't just quit when you have other people depending on you."

Schatzel said the competition is useful for students who need public speaking experience or those who aren't involved in sports.

"Children who you think would never speak in front of people just shine," she said.

Sally Sittnick, ninth-grader, has been involved in Odyssey of the Mind for four years. She is part of another team from Patton, coached by Lori Wilcox, which will also compete in World Finals.

"I'm really into acting, so this gives me good experience," she said. "You get everything you would out of acting in a play. You get to do your own costume, your own set, your own script."

Sittnick said teams were able to look at their scoring after regional competitions, which helped them improve the performance. After getting some stiff opposition from their rivals at Leavenworth High School at the March 1 East Region competition, the ninth-graders at Patton made a few changes in their skit. For example, they noticed their scene transitions were too slow, so they used a pulley-coat rack device to hold backdrops.

Wilcox' ninth-grade team had a cast of characters figure out how to solve global warming. But by accident, they cause global cooling. The students even designed a fake thermometer that changes temperature.

Schatzel's team of mixed seventh- and eighth-graders themed their script on acid rain caused by a volcano. The students also introduce a required "fad," wacky hats, and created an advertisement in their play. The students constructed an Easter Island-style tiki statue with insulation material and a trash can and even used a bubble blower.

Madeline Tennant, eighth-grader, said being on a student-led team was a challenge.

"In the beginning it's fun, but then we get under each other's skin," she said.

All Patton students had to audition for their teams in November and have been working several evenings and weekends for months.

"It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort, but if you build everything right and it really looks good, it's a lot of fun," said Peter Gardner, seventh-grader.

Pam Jordan, gifted education facilitator at Patton, said students advancing to World Finals will have fundraisers to help pay for their trip. The competition is May 31 to June 3 in College Park, Md., with more than 20 countries from around the world and other U.S. states. Odyssey of the Mind is administered by not-for-profit organizations licensed by Creative Competitions, Inc. For more information about Odyssey of the Mind, visit http://www.odysseyofthemind.com/.

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