Hall County will be well represented as students from all over the world converge on Iowa State University’s campus for the final stage of an international competition.
Three teams from three different schools will travel to Ames, Iowa, at the end May to try for their chance to take home the world title at the Odyssey of the Mind World Competition.
Teams from C.W. Davis Middle School, Flowery Branch High School and Johnson High School placed either first or second at the state level this past weekend, earning the trip to the Midwest.
C.W. Davis and Flowery Branch each placed first in their respective problems.
“It’s kind of rewarding,” said Rachael Faul, a seventh-grade member of the C.W. Davis team. “We build this over time and it’s great to see how it all adds up in the end. It’s just kind of incredible.”
The competition embraces critical thinking and creative responses to certain prompts, or “problems” and hosts teams from elementary school all the way up to high school.
Teams compete in two different problem categories: a long-term problem and a spontaneous problem.
Long-term problems can range from performances spinning off of William Shakespeare’s work to building a wood structure capable of holding hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pounds.
C.W. Davis, for example, built a 12-gram wood structure that held more than 1,200 pounds.
Spontaneous problems are team-based, critical thinking tasks that are given the day of the competition and vary in subject.
Both problems count in the overall score.
“You don’t really get a lot of experiences like this,” said Faul. “In school, teachers are always telling you to be quiet and keep it down, but in O.M. you can be yourself and be loud and be who you are.”
The teams of seven students are coached by volunteer adults, but are only available for advice and guidance. Students must create props, costumes and scripts themselves.
“It’s so awesome to see their eyes light up when they hear they’re going to world,” said Kim Carroll, the C.W. Davis coach. “It’s a life-changing experience.”
Last year, C.W. Davis finished third at the world competition.
But before going onto world, teams must first place at the region level, then place in the top two at the state competition.
C.W. Davis and Flowery Branch both placed first at the region competition.
“It’s great having put in so much work and effort into this,” said Chandler Brown, a freshman team member for Flowery Branch. “Hopefully we can raise the money (to go to world).”
Teams are currently raising money to make the trip to Iowa — some for the first time ever.
Johnson High’s team will end its first year as an Odyssey of the Mind competitor with a trip to world, if it can raise the $8,000 it will take to get there.
But, team members say, it is good to be a part of “history” at Johnson High School.
“I find it pretty shocking because it’s our first year and some of the other high schools have been doing this since they were in elementary school,” said Joel Crumbley, a junior Johnson team member.
Their coach, Jody Key, says the enthusiasm of the kids heading into the world competition is high.
“I’m proud of them because most of them have never done this before,” she said. “This is their sport — this is what they do.”
The world competition is May 23-26 and will feature teams from China, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Lithuania, Poland and more.
For more information on the competition, visit www.odysseyofthemind.com.