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Area students use brainpower in Odyssey competition

HUDSON FALLS -- Third-grader Hayden Curley dressed in a mouse costume with markers indicating whiskers and stuffed black socks for ears, and performed CPR during his skit.

The Ballston Spa student was pretending to give help to a victim in part of a story called "The Accidental Mouse with Issues." Second- to fifth-graders for his team performed a series of challenges for a regional BOCES competition Saturday called Odyssey of the Mind.

Hayden and his teammates completed their tasks in an original story they wrote with vehicles they created that operated solely on the power of mousetraps.

Other competitions included a Rube Goldberg competition, where students completed a simple task in as many steps as possible; a tour guide story; the creation of a foldable object based primarily out of balsa wood and glue that can hold as much weight as possible; and a humorous performance where something changes at least three times then returns to its original form and appearance.

"They were awesome problem solvers," said Argyle Elementary School district sixth-grade teacher Vickie Myott after her team's Goldberg experiment performed.

The group created a machine for Johnny Appleseed that planted trees. The structure was taller than all of the team's students except one.

It had toy trucks propel different objects, an unidentified balloon animal roll down a race car track and a weighted soda can drop a fake tree into place.

The procedure took 21 steps, just as Rube Goldberg's cartoon character would make the simple complex.

"I've been impressed by the creativity and persistence," said Caren Snell, principal of special programs for BOCES.

Eighteen area school districts with 67 teams were registered.

The event was sponsored by Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Fifteen winners - the top three from various grade levels - will go to the state competition March 26 in Binghamton.

A list of winners will be displayed online, possibly by Monday, at wswheboces.org.

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