| Rochester Democrat and Chronicle |
Area students go on Odyssey of the Mind

By Tiffany Lankes
The students at Churchville-Chili Middle School had a simple task before them: Close a door.

But rather than solving their problem in a conventional method, the team devised a complex system to do it. They built an intricate apparatus using balls, pull cords and funnels that could close a door, but only after working through a roughly 12-step chain reaction.

"We had a couple malfunctions from miscommunication," sixth-grader Kevin Dick said of the group's invention. "But I think we've got the hang of it."

The students' effort was in preparation for the annual Odyssey of the Mind Competition, an international challenge that encourages students to work as teams and use problem-solving skills to complete puzzles and projects. Each year, thousands of teams from 26 countries participate in the program.

The goal is to teach students to work together and develop problem-solving skills that they can use in the future.

"The nice thing is there's no right or wrong answer," said Patti Saucke, a teacher who works with the Churchville-Chili Middle School teams. "They're all different, and they're all great."

Area teams participate in a regional competition, which was held Saturday at the Churchville-Chili middle and high school campus. This year's event was the biggest yet, with 175 teams competing from schools throughout the area.

More than 2,500 students, spectators and judges came out to participate in the events.

For the competition, teams had to prepare a project such as building machines or acting out a literary classic.

The Churchville-Chili Middle team opted to compete in the Rube Goldberg category, which required students to come up with a complex machine to perform a simple task. Not only did they have to come up with the process and build a machine, they then presented it to judges in a theatrical skit.

The teams presented their projects to judges, who awarded points for things such as creativity. The top-scoring teams will go on to represent the region in the state competition in Binghamton on March 26.

For some students, the competition offers an opportunity to learn skills they may use later.

"It's fun. It's creative," said sixth-grader Zach Smith, 11.

"Depending on what you do when you're older, this could really help you."

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