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3 Shelby teams make Odyssey world finals

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Teams won state competition, will go to Michigan State University in May

By Todd Martin

Shelby County schools had 15 teams qualify for the state Odyssey of the Mind competition last weekend at Northern Kentucky University, and three of them took home championships to advance to the world finals in May at Michigan State University.

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“It was great. We had one team at each level advance, and we had another five teams finish in third place, just missing qualifying for the world finals,” said Teresa Walther, the Talented and Gifted teacher for East and West middle schools.

The top two teams qualify for the world finals, and the scores were so close that one Collins team missed second place by just 1.68 points and an East team missed out by just six points.

Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving competition in which teams of seven compete in a long-term performance, a spontaneous answer round and a style category.

The long-term problem performance consists of teams working through an issue in a skit that is performed in front of an audience and the judges. The spontaneous round has a group of five answer questions posed by judges. The questions require students to be quick-minded and can range from problem-solving to wordplay.

Teams earn style points based on the creativity and the originality of their work.

The teams that advanced from Shelby County and the problems they competed in are:

  • Collins – ARTchitecture: The Musical
  • West – It’s How You Look At It
  • Clear Creek – It’s How You Look At It

After having four teams qualify for the world finals last year, Walther said she is pleased with the district’s growth and success in the competition.

“We’ve grown about every year,” she said. “That’s been a little surprising, because I thought we’d level out. But we’re getting more and more middle and high school teams, and the elementary schools really just started doing it last year.”

The Collins team that took first is a group of seasoned veterans who will be making their fourth trip to the world finals. But the West and Clear Creek squads are both new.

“The Collins team has stayed together for years,” Walther said. “They may have added a new person last year, but they’re a very creative bunch that needs very little coaching.

“The West team, they surprised us a little because they’re all sixth-graders that were competing against mostly eighth-graders. I’m really excited to see them stay together and grow.

“Clear Creek is all new, too, and Odyssey of the Mind is relatively new to our elementary schools.”

The teams practice on Wednesday’s after school and on the weekends for extra work.

The world finals will be May 22-26.