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Area Odyssey of the Mind teams compete at world finals

May 24, 2019

Houston-area teams from Terrace and Helms elementary schools traveled to show off their problem-solving skills and creativity in Michigan at the 2019 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals from May 22-25.

The students from the Spring Branch and Heights areas traveled to Michigan State University in East Lansing to compete with other students from across the nation and globe. Terrace has two teams, one with third graders. The older team with with a mixture of third and fourth graders is competing in Michigan. The team from Helms has both fourth and fifth graders.

The premise of Odyssey of the Mind is that students present a solution to a problem that they have been working on for months, without scripts. Sometimes they have to improvise if things go awry, ready to fix things on the fly.

Terrace has been competing at Odyssey since 1995. Community volunteer and coach Iris Story shared what she thinks has been the secret to success for this year’s team in getting to the world finals.

“Their spontaneity for sure. They are quick to solve a problem that might happen on the spot. Like when the wheel fell off the bookcase prob at Region,” Story said. “They found the wheel, took a screw from each of the other wheels since the original ones were lost, poked pilot holes with a hammer and a pen, then screwed it back on the prop in a different place since the holes were stripped. They are also lighthearted and funny.”

Story said she has seen how the Odyssey program has helped the students grow and learn together, such as getting along better and being able to share their thoughts with one another more effectively than they did at the start of the season.

“Two of the fourth graders have deep conversations about 1945 era big bands. The two younger kids are not intimidated about giving their suggestions to solutions to the problem and to the script and prop functions.”

Helms has had Odyssey teams since 2014. Principal Lola Perejón-Lasheras has seen the children at her school gain confidence and become better thinkers as they prepared for Odyssey of the Mind competitions. “The students have grown. Some of them have come out of their shells and become outside-of-the-box thinkers.”

Perejón-Lasheras said her students have largely been successful this year because of their hard work and diligence starting in the fall, plus previous experience in the program.

“The team has been working together since the beginning of the school year and six of the seven members have been on the same team since 2017. The teamwork and creativity are what makes them a strong team that has grown a lot.”

Both the teams from Terrace and Helms are raising funds to cover their expenses for travel and to help their programs. To contribute to Terrace Elementary School’s team, visit https://www.gofundme.com/odyssey-of-the-mind-world-finals-iris-story-team. To contribute to Helms Elementary School’s team, visit https://www.gofundme.com/helms-odyssey-of-the-mind.

tracy.maness@hcnonline.com

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