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West Potomac Takes First Place At Odyssey of the Mind Competition

By Erica Laxson, March 7, 2011
Over sixty elementary, middle and high schools from across the eastern Northern Virginia region competed in the Region 8 Odyssey of the Mind competition at West Potomac High School on Saturday.

Carl Sandburg Middle School and Stratford Landing Elementary School won first place and second place in two activities in their respective divisions. Fort Hunt Elementary won second place in one event.

Of the two West Potomac teams that competed in separate events, one team placed first and will continue to the state completion, while the other took second.

"I am so proud of all of them. They all have other athletics and other high intensity choral practices and they still found the time," West Potomac coach, Terri Bell said. "They made the time for this. Whether it was two or three of that at someone's house or long group meetings, they made time for it."

The competition featured five different 'problems' that groups of students were tasked with solving and cleverly presenting. Each unique problem required logical thinking, a creative imagination and a limited budget of $125 to $145 for any required supplies.

Problem one, 'Extreme Mouse Mobiles'', challenged students to create a vehicle that used only a mousetrap for its energy source. Problem two, 'As Good As Gold...berg', tested the students' ability to mimic a common invention's purpose with a complicated serious of unrelated objects arranged in domino style.

Problem three, 'Le Tour Guide', had students create and script a scene revolving around a classical figure as a tour guide and include specific objects and scenarios. Problem four, 'Unhinged Structure', had students engineer a balsa wood and glue structure that could fold into itself and support weights.

The seven member, all female team from West Potomac placed first in problem five, 'Full Circle', a humorous performance challenge with multiple plot twists and specific characters required.

According to the girls, Bell told them to have fun with their design and inspired them to get creative with the script. The team had been meeting since January to plot, write and practice their winning script and they spent the past week practicing every spare moment that they had.

"I told them last year and I told them this year, don't leave it until the last minute to prepare," Bell said. "Coach says don't do it, but procrastination seems to work for them."

First-place teams will move on to the Virginia State competition at T.C. Williams High School on April 6th.

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