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Cathcart Boulevard headed to Odyssey of the Mind

Cathcart Boulevard school is sending a very large contingent to the world finals of the Odyssey of the Mind competition.

The Sarnia school has qualified three teams ??one primary and two junior ??for the international creative problem-solving showdown May 26 at Michigan State University.

The competition has two components, including one in which teams are asked to spontaneously provide a verbal, hands-on or combination solution to a problem provided by judges.

"They could be given a paper plate, a couple of insects, nuts and bolts and asked to put all those things together and asked to present it to the judge in a creative way," said Nicola Arndt, a coach and kindergarten French immersion teacher.

The second component is a long-term problem teams have worked on since October.

Each Cathcart team has a different problem, which features an engineering component and requires members to present the solution through drama.

One team, for example, built lightweight wood structures that withstand pressure, and acted out a skit about Olympian gods seeking ways to ease the strain of holding up the planet.

"Because it's problem solving and its Level Four thinking it actually enhances our students problem solving capabilities, and it directly relates to the curriculum," Arndt said.

The teams qualified by placing in the top two at the provincial championships, held recently at LCCVI in Petrolia.

Last year Cathcart sent two teams to the world finals in Iowa. One finished first among Canadian teams and 21st overall in its category. The other was 25th in its category.

A team from Northern is also heading to the world finals this year.

The Cathcart teams, also coached by Harminder Deol and Susan Van Gorp, are trying to raise $10,000 to cover travel, lodging and a $2,500 entry fee per team.

"We're looking at corporate sponsors," Arndt said, adding students are also planning bake sales and bottled water sales.

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