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Davis Middle students place 3rd in world competition
Teams wooden structure held more than 1,000 pounds
The C.W. Davis Middle School Odyssey of the Mind team placed third in the World Finals this weekend.

If the rules don't say you can't, you can.

Such was the mantra the C.W. Davis Middle School Odyssey of the Mind team used when it traveled Friday to the University of Maryland for the World Finals.

The team completed the "Unhinged Structure" problem, coming in third place and beating out teams from all over the globe.

"It didn't feel real until I was up there accepting the medal," said Ali Winiesdorffer, a rising seventh-grader on the team.

Team adviser Kim Carroll said when the C.W. Davis team was called, the Georgia section in the stands went wild.

"They were screaming and crying," Carroll said of her seven-member team. "It was very emotional."

Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving competition for students. It includes different problems such as one where students build and run a small vehicle and others that require a skit created around a specific theme.

The structure problem the Davis team tackled required the students to create a balsa wood structure under specific dimensions that held as much weight as possible. They also had to create a skit that included the structure.

"We had to build an 18-gram structure that was 7 inches tall with a hinge that had to unfold somehow and be put back together," said Maddison Sharp, a rising ninth-grader on the team.

"Our skit was based around Pandora's box. If you open the box all the creativity is sucked out of the world, so you had to break the structure to make the creativity come back."

The structure supported more than 1,000 pounds before it finally cracked. Carroll said the team tried different structures for months.

"Our builder kept improving the structure," she said. "They videoed the structure and then slowed it down to watch where it cracked and where it broke to see what we could do better. We've been testing a structure a week since October."

C.W. Davis Principal Eddie Millwood said though the school has gone to World Finals before, this is the first time a team has won a trophy.

"They put in a lot of hours after school. We're very proud of them," he said. "Odyssey of the Mind rewards out-of-the-box thinking, creativity and problem solving, and those are all things that we try to teach students in our classrooms."

Carroll said she encouraged the team to find its own way to stand out among the hundreds of teams at World Finals.

"They all decided to make hats out of balsa wood," she said. "The judges were in awe."

The hats did their job, considering the team came back to Hall County sporting a massive trophy.

"There were close to 24,000 students at World," Carroll said. "We go big, or we go home."


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