Dodgeville students return to ‘Odyssey’ world finals Print
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, May. 22, 2014 -- 12:00 AM
Dodgeville Odyssey of the Mind Project
Students from St. Joseph School in Dodgeville are making a return trip to the Odyssey of the Mind world finals. They recently displayed their projects at a Kiwanis Club meeting in Dodgeville. Pictured in the above photo are sixth graders Samuel Angel and Will Kramer (as a "headless horseman") with their project. Pictured in the  photo below, from left, are: Olivia Argall, JoJo Heimerl, and Maya Kramer with their project. (Contributed photos)
Dodgeville Odyssey of the Mind Group

DODGEVILLE -- For the second year in a row, students at St. Joseph School in Dodgeville will be taking some of their skills and talents to a worldwide stage.

Two teams from the school are advancing to the Odyssey of the Mind world finals set to take place at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, from May 28 to May 31.

More than 800 teams from around the world will compete in the 35th annual competition which, according to its website, "emphasizes creativity and teamwork and has grown into the largest international creative problem-solving competition worldwide."

Two teams from St. Joseph School also competed at last year’s world finals in East Lansing, Mich. One of the students, who is making a return trip to the world finals says it’s "great [because] this year we want to win."

Making the return trip

The two teams qualified for the world finals by taking first place in their respective divisions at the recent state finals, held at Madison College -- one team in the third to fifth grade division and the other in the sixth through eighth grade division. Two other teams took second place and third place in their divisions.

Both of the teams competing this year at the world competition chose to do a long-term problem called the "Driver's Test."

They had to design, build, and drive a vehicle that could complete tasks as well as travel using one propulsion system to go forward and a different propulsion system to reverse. They also had to have a GPS system that talked to the driver. The vehicle had to fit certain size and cost limitations.

Once the students built it, the vehicle had to be incorporated into an original performance or skit. In addition to the long-term problem, the teams were also judged on creativity, style, and how well they do on a spontaneous problem.

One of the students called the project "a lot of work." Others said they "loved creating a vehicle to score a lot of points," but it was "also challenging because things didn't work always as expected."

Project challenges

The teams had problems with building a vehicle that would hold a person as push itself up. One student said, "The lifting mechanism ended up popping during a rehearsal and had to be redone at the last minute."

The performance part was also a challenge to the students; one of them noted, "so much time went into creating the vehicle, there was very little time left to work out the skit part."

The teams have been working since last fall to create and perfect their vehicles and performances. They built and designed their projects without adult direction. Coaches Kent and Amy Kramer were allowed to assist them in solving various spontaneous problems to prepare for competition.

"We couldn't do this without our coaches," one student said. "They make us want to be the best we can be."

Special recognition

In addition to advancing to the world finals, the third through fifth grade team received special "Omer" recognition. The award is given to a team that exhibited exceptional skill as opposed to creativity, as well as application of the basic laws of physics, elaborate mechanical system design, and use of higher-level knowledge with application of engineering.

The teams from St. Joseph School are busy fundraising to pay the $2,500 per team registration fee as well as travel and lodging. They have sold turnovers and cinnamon rolls, and also had a brat stand and a raffle to win the meat and processing of a pig.

Anyone who would like to give the students some last-minute fundraising help can contact the school at 608-930-3392, ext. 5.


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