Dodgeville students advance to ‘Odyssey’ world finals Print
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, May. 02, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

The "Pet Project" team from St. Joseph School in Dodgeville (above) will be competing in the World Finals of the Odyssey of the Mind. They also took home the "Ranatra Fusca" award for excellence in the state competition. In the front row, pictured from left are: Harrison Hellen and Maya Kramer. In the back row, pictured from left are: Riley Hall, Olivia Argall, JoJo Heimerl, Braden Schmelzer, and Will Kramer. The “ARTchitecture” group (below) is also heading to the world finals. Pictured from left in the front row are Anna Ruhland, Gwen Kass, Elle Tranel, A.J. Phillipps, Livia Winch. Pictured in the back is Anna Lecrone. (Contributed photos)

DODGEVILLE -- Two teams of students in grades three through five from St. Joseph School in Dodgeville will be competing in the World Finals of the Odyssey of the Mind. The competition is set for May 22-25 on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing, Mich.

The Odyssey of the Mind 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.

"Our school became involved in it just last year because some parents asked about it, and I had always wanted to get it going," said Principal Sharon Wimer. "It seemed like a great opportunity to promote creative thinking and originality, and showcase some of our talented students."

Journey to the finals

Last year, the school entered a team in three different divisions. Each team took third place in their respective division.

This year, with more students and parents interested, the school entered five teams. In the state competition on April 13 on the Madison College Campus in Madison, two teams won first place in their division. They will be the ones competing at the World Finals.

One team in the "Pet Project" division also won the "Ranatra Fusca" award. Principal Wimer says the honor is only presented "when the judges believe a team or individual exhibits exceptional creativity either through some aspect of their problem solution or an extraordinary idea beyond the problem."

The problem in that category was students needed to design, build, and run three vehicles to deliver parts to an assembly area. The parts then have to be assembled into a pet, which has to perform a trick.

“The hardest part of our project was getting all the cars put together because we couldn't use a motor and they had to be handmade," said team member JoJo Heimerl.

"For our pet, we thought of The Flintstones, and they lived a long time ago, so we thought about dinosaurs, and then we found a little toy pterodactyl and thought we could make the parts," said team member Olivia Argall.

The other team advancing to the finals placed first in the "ARTchitecture" division. For this problem, teams had to create and present an original performance with a replica of an architectural structure that was built about 500 to 1,000 years ago. The performance had to include three works of art that "disappear" and two characters that go on a quest to find them.

"We fought a lot because everyone was a girl on our team and we all had good ideas," said team member Anna Ruhland. "The hardest part of the whole project was learning to compromise."

"We got so behind we even had to work over spring break, and we thought we did all that hard work for nothing," said team member Elle Tranel. "I was really shocked that we won because I was on my way home and got a message on my phone.  I was in tears."

Getting there

The next challenge for the winning teams is coming up with $2,500 for registration and money for transportation and lodging. Students have been speaking at Masses, asking for donations. Parents made and sold food at the school’s Art/Science Fair. They also plan to have a bake sale at the next parish fish fry on Friday, May 10, as well as a 50/50 raffle and possibly a pancake breakfast.

"We want to make sure all families will be able to attend without having a huge financial burden to bear," Wimer said.

Donations may be sent to St. Joseph School, 305 E. Walnut St., Dodgeville, WI 53533. They should be marked "Odyssey Fund."


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