RES OMers Compete

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
― Maya Angelou
On Saturday, March 17, several teams of RES students will join kids from around the state to compete in Odyssey of the Mind State Finals at Southern Connecticut State University.Odyssey of the Mind (OM) 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 their own interpretation of literary classics.

There is a rich history of Redding students from RES, JRMS and JBHS participating in O M. Several teams have gone on to the world finals. RES teacher Matt Farina took over the helm of local participation after Francine LaMonica retired.

Each team is required to do almost every aspect on their own without “Outside Help” from parents and coaches. This includes building props, sewing costumes, painting sets, writing the scripts and solving the problem presented by the Odyssey of the Mind organization.

An exception for adult involvement is, of course, driving the students to procure their materials and to the competition. Judges are always watching when the team arrives at the school to make sure only the students unload the materials. Officials have been known to circulate in the bathrooms and waiting areas to ensure that the students are doing all preparation such as hair and makeup on their own.

Their budget must be strictly followed and documented. Even items like the clothes worn from home while in the presentations are given a value.

Christine Schwartz and Trang Stuart are coaching a team of first time competitors ranging from first to fourth grades. The team consists of Miley, Lilia, Keaton and Chloe – all in third grade, Olivia who is a fourth grader, and Jacob in second grade. They call themselves the “Redding Color Squad.”

The Color Squad chose Triathlon Travels as their challenge. In this problem, the teams will ride on and drive an original vehicle in an Odyssey-style triathlon. They will try to score in “curling,” hit the right targets when “jousting,” and “run track” by navigating a course in two directions. Between these events, the team will entertain the audience and the vehicle will change appearance. All of the action will take place in a team-created performance that features the vehicles’ triathlon travels, a commentator, and a coach.

The other problems presented this year are called: Emoji, Speak for Yourself; Classics… Mockumentary! Seriously?; Animal House; A Stellar Hangout with a Primary (K-2) problem called We’re Cooking Now

Christine and Trang are very proud of their team. Christine said, “Students learned about the brainstorming process, took democratic votes on each decision, and worked together to make it all happen. The kids learned how to use a power drill, how to cut PVC pipes and wood with a saw, discovered the wonders of zip-ties, made costumes and most of all learned how to become a unified and supportive team.”

“Spontaneous” is a part of the competition where team members get to think on their feet and outside of the box. The teams drill constantly to learn the critical skills needed for Spontaneous; but they won’t hear the problem until they enter the room.

The nature of these problems vary and could be Verbal, Hands-on or combined. Teams who have already completed the question are sworn to secrecy until the day is over so as not to provide an unfair advantage to the teams that come after them.

In between competing, the students have the opportunity to visit the science labs at SCSU. The day culminates in an awards ceremony. Two teams from each Division (grade level) and Problem go on to World Finals in Iowa in the spring.

Good luck to all the Redding teams!

The Redding Color Squad getting ready for Triathlon Travels
Olivia, Keaton, Jacob, Lilia, Miley, and Chloe.