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Riverside teams take honors in Odyssey competition

The Press-Enterprise

Two Odyssey of the Mind teams from Earhart Middle School in Riverside have advanced to the state finals, which will be March 27 in Brentwood.

Odyssey of the Mind is a competition in which students to use teamwork to solve problems, said Lynn Larsen, of Brandman University, one of the Odyssey coaches at Earhart.

Larsen, and her husband, Paul, from UC Riverside, have coordinated and coached Odyssey since 2005. She said they worked with teams from Kennedy Elementary on Odyssey and Destination Imagination, which Larsen called a similar program. The Larsens have twin seventh-graders who are now on the team.

Earhart Middle School teacher Marie Coover also coaches the Odyssey teams.

The Discovered Treasure team consists of Kathy Chen, Reysha Patel, Krystal Gonzalez, Daniel Jerz, Zachery Larsen and Hannah Larsen. The other team is Food Court with Katelyn Gregori, Yuna Shin, Zachery Larsen, Dan Jerz, Hannah Larsen and Krystal Gonzalez, Katelyn said in an e-mail.

The students work on five challenges, two of them technical and two others theatrical, Lynn Larsen said.

The students also solve spontaneous problems during competition, Katelyn said. The teams spend six months preparing for competition in March. Students write scripts and make costumes and props.

At the recent regional competition in Palm Springs, the Food Court team won first place. Discovered Treasures took second place overall, according to Riverside Unified School District. Both teams were judged on original productions and had to solve an impromptu problem.

The Food Court team wrote a script about a raisin accused of causing wrinkles. The team's play was presented in three genres: soap opera, '70s, and a Star Trek spoof and won the Renatra Fusca Award for outstanding creativity. Two of the 81 teams at the regional competition in Palm Springs won that award.

The Discovered Treasures team wrote a script about the discovery of the Hope Diamond and Balloon Dog Sculpture and presented the play as a soap opera and again as a disaster movie.

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