Friday, September 14, 2012

Can I Brag About My Students?

The (future) World Champions departing Stillwater to go to World Finals; missing one teammate.

Tuesday night, my husband and I were having a peaceful pizza buffet at Mazzio's when I was ambushed by five of my ex-students.  These girls are now in 8th grade (I had most of them as students from 2nd - 5th grade).  Every time I see these girls, they squeal and run to hug me (often making a much bigger production out of it than is necessary; such are 13-year-old self-confident girls.)  This time, though, they saw me before I saw them, and they snuck across the restaurant (crouching and crawling) until they suddenly popped up right next to my table.  (It didn't help that I was in the middle of composing a quick text, so I was completely unaware.)  Guess who squealed this time?

For several years, the girls and a few friends have been teammates on an Odyssey of the Mind team.  Smart, clever, funny, and fun to be around, these girls are also adept at building, sewing, gluing, and engineering - all skills they've learned while completing solutions each year for OM.  Last year, they competed in Problem 2, which is a technical problem.  The requirements each year vary. 

Some of the "Weird Science" requirements were:
  • choose a photograph from the NASA website that shows an event or phenomenon on Earth
  • create and act out an explanation about the strange circumstance that caused the event
  • depict the location of the event onstage
  • depict the strange circumstance in a technical fashion
  • have a team of scientists visit the location and collect samples (using some sort of robotic device)
This team decided that their event would take place under the sea.  Their characters were sea animals - and their costumes were unbelievable.

Last May, they competed at World Finals.  
They placed FIRST (First!) in both Long-Term AND Style 
and placed 9th overall, an absolutely fantastic achievement.  

Really.  First Place at World Finals.  Here's the video of their performance:


(Note:  OM requires team members to complete every aspect of their solution by themselves.  Adults are not allowed to assist in any way.  Skills can be taught, but the students must figure out how to apply those skills to the solution themselves, and the team makes all the decisions.  Adults are not allowed to give stage directions, either, hence, an OM solution doesn't look anything like a "skit" or "play" you might see in a classroom or at a theatre.)

Can you see why I'm proud?  We've had teams participating in OM in Stillwater since the 2005-2006 school year, so our kids really have some great experience.  This team's motto was "Good Enough is not World Quality" and they spent hundreds of hours preparing their solution.  They totally get it. 

Five of the seven team members are back again this year, getting ready to choose and solve one of the five 2013 problems.  They'll likely add 2 more team members, which I am excited about, because they'll share their experience and knowledge with less experienced kids.  And, it increases my opportunity for hugs!

For more information about OM, go to www.odysseyofthemind.com.  A similar program is Destination ImagiNation and we have kids from our club who participate in DI, too.  For more information about our local club, visit www.stillwatercreativity.org.    A little-understood fact:  Individual groups can participate in these programs - you do not have to depend on your school to provide them.  If you have creative kids, check it out.

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