SLIDESHOW: Lake Forest students take on Odyssey of the Mind

[slideshow_deploy id=’1722′]

FELTON — For students like Aubrey Malloy, the Odyssey of the Mind program is more than a competition; it’s a game changer.

“I don’t think I’d be who I am today without Odyssey of the Mind,” the eighth grader and six-year “OM” veteran said of her time in the program.

Lake Forest School District sent a total of 25 teams of students to regional competitions recently. Middle and high school students competed on March 5 in Laurel while younger students competed on March 12 in Milford.

Thirteen of those teams are now headed to a statewide competition to be held April 9 at Delaware Technical Community College’s Terry Campus in Dover. From there, students winning top marks at the statewide level have the opportunity to take their presentations to a worldwide competition.

“These kids remember that for the rest of their lives,” Pamela Hobbs said. “It’s just a unique experience that you can’t replicate anywhere else.”

The STEM teacher and Lake Forest Odyssey of the Mind Coordinator said she sees students grow each year they are involved in the program, many of whom remain involved for years like Aubrey.

“This is tough work. They spend months preparing for one problem incorporating various different elements. They have to work together as a team and coaches have to be hands- off. This is all them,” she said. “These kids would be here all day preparing if they could.”

Teams consist of up to seven members around their own age and an adult coach who can help teach students necessary skills and give critiques, but cannot offer other assistance.

“That’s really frustrating for some of our coaches, because when you see a prop start to fall you just want to jump up and catch it for them. But we can’t. We have to let them figure all this out on their own,” Ms. Hobbs said.

Students have eight minutes to present a solution to their given problem which involves dramatic play, skills learned in and outside of school, teamwork, paperwork and budgeting as students are only allowed to spend $125-$145 per problem.

“When you start building three different devices on top of that that can pick up three different moving objects and a vehicle that can hold two people, $145 no longer sounds like a lot. You see a lot of cardboard around here,” Ms. Hobbs chuckled.

Students presenting in the sometimes day-long competition also have to be prepared for a spontaneous presentation which is just one of many skills students may not find in the classroom, she added.

“Sometimes, teachers get so fed up with all the structure that they can’t add in the fun or fluff. So this is that outlet. We’re lucky that Lake Forest doesn’t feel kids need a certain IQ to be in the program because they don’t. It’s for everyone,” she said.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.
[fbcomments url="" width="375" count="off" num="3"]