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Jerome students headed to Odyssey World Finals

By Philip Wright
Six Clarkdale-Jerome School fifth-graders and two moms are headed to Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa for the 30th Odyssey of the Mind World Finals competition. The kids have already won the regional in Flagstaff, and they won first place in their age division in state competition.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international program that challenges students to find creative ways of solving problems. These kids were up to the challenge.

The team is Kade Backus, Logan Connella, Kaylee Gordon, Jonathan Link, Eileen Lower and Brenna McCallum. The two parent coaches are Kari Link and Janae Gordon.

The primary challenge was to build a structure using balsa wood and glue. The structure could weigh no more than 18 grams, and it had to be at least eight inches tall. No single piece of wood could be more than one-eighth inch wide. The challenge was to see which team's structure could withstand five shock waves and then hold the most weight for three seconds.

The Clarkdale-Jerome team tested seven types of glue and built a total of about 20 structures for testing and competition.

"We had to put the weight on ourselves," said Kaylee.

"At state, their top weight of 385 pounds was on for three seconds then collapsed," said Kari

But that wasn't the only problem the kids had to solve. In addition to building the structure, they had to write a script and develop an eight-minute performance, which also was graded for the competition.

"Each team did a different type of performance," Janae said.

The team titled their performance "Structure of Fortune," and all six helped put it together and put it on.

If that isn't enough problem solving, each team was given a "spontaneous" problem to solve. At state, the team had use items such as a shoe, tennis ball or playing cards to measure five strings of different sizes to find the exact center. One hundred points were possible on this exercise, and the Clarkdale-Jerome kids scored 100.

Now the team faces what might be its biggest problem-solving task of all. The kids and moms must raise a total of $9,200 for airfare, lodging and meals. The airline tickets alone will cost about $550 each. The school district has kicked in $2,200, leaving the team a goal of $7,000.

"I hope we get enough money to go to Iowa," Brenna said.

They're going to give it their best. The World competition begins May 27, giving the kids about a month to come up with the money.

They hope some people will make tax-deductible tax credit donations to the school and earmark the money for the Odyssey team. They'll also hold some fundraising events and seek some donations.

Anyone who would like to help these kids or make a tax-credit donation may contact Clarkdale-Jerome School office at (928) 634-5035.

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