|Coach Terribeth Smith congratulates Highlands Middle School Odyssey of the Mind Team.|
What do a three-headed alien, a space gas station, a talking box and an apron made from Capri Sun cartons have in common? They all sprung from the minds of the seven members of the Fort Thomas Odyssey of the Mind team.
The team, all students in Highlands Middle School, will be on their way soon to compete in the world Odyssey of the Mind championships, a competition that celebrates creative problem solving for students in kindergarten through college level.
The team won the Kentucky state championship in their division and will head to Iowa State University at the end of May to compete with tens of thousands of students in the largest creative problem-solving program in the world.
Finding solutions outside the box
"Odyssey of the Mind doesn’t fit in a box," explained team member Samuel Contreras. "Just like our thinking, it’s really outside of that box."
Competition involves two components, he explained. At the beginning of the school year, the team is presented with five possible themes and related problems. Solutions to the problem must be presented as a performance and must meet very specific criteria. The team will also face a spontaneous challenge that may require a verbal solution, hands-on solution or a combination.
The Fort Thomas team chose a problem based on the theme "A Stellar Hangout.' From there, they developed a skit to present their solution. They created costumes, wrote the script and built the set and all the props.
Coach Terribeth Smith said the current team has been together for the past three years, and some members have been on the same team since kindergarten. She said this group of students almost always aims for humor in their solutions.
This year, the team chose a gas station in space for their hangout and peopled it with a combination of aliens and surly humans. One of the main characters was on a quest to lose weight using the a "fountain of youth" type hangout.
Creativity, challenges and competition ahead
"We are really excited… It’s not the first time a Fort Thomas team has won state, but it is the first time they’ve been allowed to go to the world competition. Over 80 teams working on our problem will be there from over 40 countries," Smith said. The team also buddy up with a team from a middle school in Chengdu, China, at the event.
Team members talked about the competition and their characters at the Fort Thomas School Board meeting. The board presented them with a check for $3,000 to help with expenses. The team also has set up a GoFundMe account. To donate, find "HMS Plunge to the World" on the gofundme website.
Team members include: Samuel Contreras, Case Grillot, Lela Grillot, Gus Lehrter, Ravi McKim, Thaddeus Sieverding and Elijah Smith.