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Crestview Elementary wins 1st place at state Odyssey of Mind contest

By Anna Lee * STAFF WRITER * March 26, 2009

A five-foot tall armadillo robot that tips his hat, eats fire ants and twirls a lasso was what wowed judges and helped the Odyssey of the Mind team from Crestview Elementary School win top honors at the state level March 23 in Columbia.

By winning first place, team members Taylor Carroll, Joshua Carson, Evan Kramer, Ben Teal and Christopher and Charles Ludlow qualify for the world finals in Ames, Iowa May 27-30, where they will compete against hundreds of Odyssey teams from around the globe.

This is the fourth consecutive trip to the world competition for Crestview. Last year they placed third out of 52 teams, behind China and New York.

"We'll be happy to do as good as we did last year," Christopher Ludlow said.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international program that promotes creative problem solving for students from kindergarten through college. Teams choose a problem to solve and, under the guidance of a coach, work on the problem throughout the year.

This year, Crestview chose the "Teach Yer Creature," problem, which required them to create a humorous performance about a mechanical creature that acts like a real mammal and learns a few lessons.

Made of paper mache, insulation tubing, egg cartons and spray-painted a swampy green, the armadillo is controlled by several ingenious devices. His hat is tilted by a hydraulic control using syringes. He twirls a rope lasso with the skeleton parts of an old weed eater. He eats fire ants with a modified Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner and spits water through his bubble gum pink tongue, an action powered by a car windshield wiper motor.

The team's coach, Crestview art teacher Sandi Carson, said the use of creativity is what makes Odyssey of the Mind such a unique program.

"A skill that the next generation is going to need in the job market is creativity, being able to think outside the box, coming up with new solutions, and that's the essence of Odyssey," Carson said.

To compete in the World Finals, Crestview will have to raise $10,000 to pay for airfare, food and lodging. To make a donation, contact the school at 355-2600 or mail checks to 509 American Legion Road, Greer 29651.

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