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There were kids everywhere at Saturday’s Odyssey of the Mind Colorado State Tournament at Fort Lupton High School, along with pieces of cardboard, sections of plastic pipe, sheets of plastic …
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There were kids everywhere at Saturday’s Odyssey of the Mind Colorado State Tournament at Fort Lupton High School, along with pieces of cardboard, sections of plastic pipe, sheets of plastic and rolls of duct tape.
Prop-toting parents trailed behind the young inventors, having parked in the high school circle to unload vans of scenery and sound equipment and boxes overflowing with costumes.
All of the bare necessities for imaginative creating.
Odyssey of the Mind, a 25-year-old program first envisioned by an industrial design college professor, presents different long-term problems each year with rules and limitations to be followed by teams of students who spend months devising clever solutions. There are five general categories of problems. But one rule reigns supreme—everything must be done by students using their own – not their parents’ – imaginations.
Imagination ruled most of the day at the school. The gym became a nature trail, with 15 teams of campers traveling through obstacles of all sorts in their human powered vehicles. Above the gym, in the multi-purpose room, strange and interesting aircraft attempted to fly.
The band room hosted a food court as kids dressed as sea creatures, fruit, vegetables and cans of food attempted to defend themselves as healthy edibles. In the auditorium, students dragged props onto the stage and, clearly enjoying their roles, acted out plays they had written about archeological treasures. Over in the shop room, audiences watched as contestants stacked heavy discs on top of engineered balsa wood columns, waiting for them to break under the force of ever increasing weights.
Odyssey of the Mind’s competition included elementary through high school students from communities around Colorado. Some teams, such as the Nature Trailer’s from Lakewood High School, have been participating in Odyssey contests for most of their school years. Old hands at the process, they spent much of the day before their late afternoon ‘show time’ refining their wheeled entry and stabilizing it with duct tape.
The 82 teams in Saturday’s state finals were the top finishers from regional contests last month. Each team also faced a spontaneous challenge, providing off-the top of the head solutions to verbal and hands-on problems.
Panels of judges award up to 350 points per team, 250 for long term and 100 for the spontaneous problems and the top two in each division advance to the final round. This year, 25 teams from the state contest are eligible to move on to the world finals in May at Michigan State University.
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