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7 Hobe Sound students to compete in problem-solving challenge in Orlando

HOBE SOUND -- Seven students from Hobe Sound Elementary who put their heads together and won a regional scholastic competition will compete again Saturday in Orlando to try to advance to the world finals for Odyssey of the Mind.

Odyssey of the Mind puts students in kindergarten through college through creative problem-solving challenges, requiring them to work cooperatively. In February, the Hobe Sound team won first place for the Earth Trek challenge, in which the students designed and built a vehicle to visit four environments and change its appearance for each one.

Team members have prepared for the next stage of the competition by rehearsing their skit a few times a week and practicing spontaneous verbal or building problems they will get asked in addition to their Earth Trek challenge.

"It's really exciting and fun to be able to go against what you think is good," fifth-grader Mark Reuwer said. "It's scary at first, but then it comes easy once you know what you are up against."

The team also includes third-grader Quest Besing, fourth-grade brothers Mike and Jake Dilla and fifth-graders Elyssa Killen, Tucker Von Holten and Carl Dudra.

"It teaches a lot of creativity and brings a lot of creativity from other schools and it teaches teamwork to the kids that are involved," Elyssa said.

To participate in the contest, schools purchase a membership and form teams with up to seven students, who must be chaperoned by an adult.

Jo-Ann Lambert, a teacher and a volunteer, is the team's chaperone.

The competition "is entirely student-driven and I am only able to give them guidance and get them to think more in-depth," Lambert said, adding the only thing she is allowed to participate in is cleaning up the mess afterwards.

In this competition, there are no right or wrong answers and teams are judged by thousands of volunteers for their problem-solving style and spontaneity. Students present their solutions through eight-minute skits complete with costumes and props.

If the students win the state competition, they will be invited to participate in the World Finals where they'll compete against teams from countries around the world. The finals will be in Iowa from May 27-30.

Angelica Stickle is a Florida Atlantic University student working as a correspondent for Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers as part of a senior-level journalism course.

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