Odyssey of the Mind stretches students’ imaginations

Clayton Intermediate School students, from left, Elizabeth Evans, 10; Sam Distler, 10; Caroline Davis, 10; Myles Pleasanton, 11; Carl Rifi, 11 and Sutton Baker, 11 pose in front of their Doctor Who themed skit props Saturday inside Alfred G. Waters Middle School in Middletown. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Clayton Intermediate School students, from left, Elizabeth Evans, 10; Sam Distler, 10; Caroline Davis, 10; Myles Pleasanton, 11; Carl Rifi, 11 and Sutton Baker, 11 stand in front of their “Doctor Who”-themed props Saturday inside Alfred G. Waters Middle School in Middletown. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

MIDDLETOWN — It’s the year 2020 and Santa Claus is having trouble recycling.

His candy cane machine is jammed, as scientists try to help him resolve the issue.

A group of fourth- and fifth-graders from Lake Forrest Central Elementary School presented that idea during the 36h annual Odyssey of the Mind State Finals on Saturday at the Alfred G. Waters Middle School in Middletown.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college.

Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting

Clayton Intermediate School students, from left, Elizabeth Evans, 10; Sam Distler, 10; Caroline Davis, 10; Myles Pleasanton, 11; Carl Rifi, 11 and Sutton Baker, 11 pose in front of their Doctor Who themed skit props Saturday inside Alfred G. Waters Middle School in Middletown. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Clayton Intermediate School students, from left, Elizabeth Evans, 10; Sam Distler, 10; Caroline Davis, 10; Myles Pleasanton, 11; Carl Rifi, 11 and Sutton Baker, 11 pose in front of their Doctor Who themed skit props Saturday inside Alfred G. Waters Middle School in Middletown. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

their own interpretation of literary classics.

Answers to six categories of problems were presented Saturday, requiring mechanical, design and artistic action by the teams to solve them.

More than 500 students participated in the competition, as the top two teams in each problem and division will get the opportunity to represent Delaware at the 2016 World Finals competition at Iowa State University in May.

During the No-Cycle Recycle competition teams had to design, build, and drive a vehicle traveled between two team-created ecosystems to process items.

“We thought it was a good idea to come up with the Santa Claus theme,” said 10-year-old Riley Bishop.” It was really fun.”

The State Finals included the top teams from the regional competitions that were held in March.

Pam Hobbs, coordinator for the Lake Forest School District, said the students have been practicing the routine since December.

Allen Frear Elementary School pupils, from left, Molly Kenney, 10; Brogan Callahan, 10; Kati Stoner, 9; Eve Sabanayagam, 8; Quinn Sabanayagam, 11; Lizzie Merkle, 8 and Jon Merkle, 11.

Allen Frear Elementary School pupils, from left, Molly Kenney, 10; Brogan Callahan, 10; Kati Stoner, 9; Eve Sabanayagam, 8; Quinn Sabanayagam, 11; Lizzie Merkle, 8 and Jon Merkle, 11.

“We feel proud of them,” Ms. Hobbs said. They’ve been working on this for months and they only had eight minutes to get everything done.

“It requires a lot of teamwork and we’re very proud of them.”

Nine-year-old Jay Chagaris felt relieved after presenting their idea.

“We practiced really hard on this,” Jay said. “Last time we didn’t do so well, but this time around we finished.

“I didn’t think we were going to be done in time, but when we did it felt like someone lifted an elephant off of me.”

Rodney Collins said the program has helped his son socially grow.

“I thought it would be a good social challenge for him and it helped him relate with other students,” Mr. Collins said.

“I’m a teacher at Lake Forest as well. It’s been an amazing transformation watching their project from the beginning stages to now.”

Debi Yeager, the team’s coach and teacher at the elementary school, said the program brings all the students together for a great cause.

“It’s all about teamwork,” Ms. Yeager said. They have to work together and all of the students bring something

Lake Forest Central Elementary School student Brayden Shockley, 10 portrays a mad scientist during his and his teammates state finals performance of a recycling skit.

Lake Forest Central Elementary School student Brayden Shockley, 10 portrays a mad scientist during his and his teammates state finals performance of a recycling skit.

different the table.

“They have different strengths and personalities and they all work together at the end.

Event President Bill Combs said that through Odyssey, barriers are removed and students are allowed to stretch the limits of their creativity and imagination.

“Odyssey of the Mind is about the educational journey that participating students take over several months leading up to the competition,” Mr. Combs said.

“Winning just makes the experience more fun. Odyssey of the Mind is about what the students learn and how they apply that learning in the development of their problem solution.”

Ten-year-old Brayden Shockley said the program is a fun way to express his creative ideas.

“I’m the most imaginative person that anyone has ever seen,” Brayden said. “I thought it would be great for me.

“It’s for creative and imaginative people and I’m all of those things.”

The winners of the competition can be viewed at http://www.delcaps.org/beta/state-finals.

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