MONS, Belgium - Months of hard work are paying off for 18 SHAPE students in grades four through eight. Three local teams will attend the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals at the end of May after each placing first in their respective divisions at the Odyssey of the Mind European Championships.

The Odyssey of the Mind event is an international educational experience. School kids from around the world are asked to creatively solve a complex scenario. Then, they are graded on certain criteria while creating and explaining their solution. Therese Blanchard, one of the coaches for the SHAPE teams, said all the teams have been working on their projects for some time now.

Aca,!A"These projects were started in October. All the questions have scientific or historic components. Solutions involve a lot of research and work, as well as creativity,Aca,!A? said Blanchard.

This year, two of the SHAPE groups chose the Aca,!A"Teach Yer CreatureAca,!A? challenge. The teams will showcase a robot they built that can also perform certain tasks. Sixth-grade students Michael and Matthew Wilcox are part of a team that built a rabbit using items like wood pieces, chicken wire, foam and even wind up novelty teeth.

Matthew said, Aca,!A"We had to teach our creature to do certain things. Our creature moves, eats a carrot and delivers eggs.Aca,!A? He said the team will demonstrate how the robot acquired the skills during a skit they created.

The other creature building team includes fifth-grader Calvin Weaver. Aca,!A"Our team built a superhero monkey. It flies, shoots a laser beam from its hand and it can talk,Aca,!A? he said.

The third group of students took part in a different challenge through the Odyssey of the Mind program. The group was asked to create a story centered on a forgotten task accomplished by the mythological Greek hero Heracles and explain why their story was lost to history. Eighth-grader Annelise Blanchard said the team not only got to create a new Greek myth but they created a skit to explain their story and built the set and props themselves.

Seventh-grade student Iqra Tabassum said the best part of the experience has been the team she has worked with for the last few months. Aca,!A"We have this awesome group. We all work together and get to be creative but sometimes we shout or cry, but we always have fun,Aca,!A? she said.

Seventh-grader Nikki Rueb agreed, Aca,!A"We made friends for life with this project.Aca,!A?

All three of the teams are looking forward to the visit to the World Finals in Ames, Iowa, so they can see solutions from all the other groups. And while all the SHAPE students hope to walk away with first place honors, they said they are all happy theyAca,!a,,cve made it this far.

Sixth-grade participant Erin Reich summed up her feelings. Aca,!A"When youAca,!a,,cre in the World Finals youAca,!a,,cre not really worried about what place you get anymore. You just want to compete and see what the other teams came up with,Aca,!A? she said.

All the students agreed that the best part of the experience is yet to come. While they are in the states they will be able to participate in another Odyssey of the Mind tradition, the pin trade.

Calvin explained that each group at the world finals will have a unique pin. The kids then barter with each other to collect as many different pins as they can.

However, before the groups can show off their projects and trade in their pins they need to make sure they have the funds to make the trip. Parents of the team members are helping the students host various fundraisers over the next two weeks to make sure the kids have the money to attend the event.

More information about the SHAPE teams, as well as upcoming and continuing fundraisers, can be found on the website for the group at http://sites.google.com/site/shapeodysseyofthemind/. The Odyssey of the Mind World Finals takes place May 27 to 30.

Teach Yer Creature Division 1 (Grades 4 and 5):
Martin Bowers
Lauren Jermstad
Joey Nisiewicz
Daniel Rowe
Omar Tabassum
Bilal Tabassum
Calvin Weaver
Coaches: Lt. Col. Robert Weaver, Andrea Gerding


The Lost Labor of Heracles Division 2 (Grades 6, 7, 8)
Brigitte Blanchard
Annelise Blanchard
Erin Reich
Maren Reich
Nikki Rueb
Iqra Tabassum
Coaches: Therese Blanchard, Christina Reich


Teach Yer Creature Division 2 (Grades 6, 7, 8)
Evan Bell
Zach Brinsfield
Hunter Peterson
Matthew Wilcox
Michael Wilcox
Coach: Deb Pennell-Wilcox

Page last updated Mon May 11th, 2009 at 08:47