Odyssey of the Mind Competition Inspires Community
The excitement filled the air when Franklin Square students designed and drove a vehicle, wrote and performed plays, and built and tested balsa wood structures on Saturday, March 1st. Students in grades 3-6 across the District presented solutions to real-world problems at their first Odyssey of the Mind Competition which was held at Polk Street School. Superintendent Patrick Manley, School Trustee Joe Armocida and Senator Jack Martins attended the competition and visited with parents and students during the event.
The competition challenged the creativity, teamwork and critical thinking skills of young people in a fun way. It also included all students throughout the schools among them were students with different abilities in a cutting edge manner for education that was widely applauded by parents.
Senator Jack Martins visited the different classrooms and talked to students and parents about the program. “The talent on display and work that went into the competition is incredible,” said Senator Martins adding, “seeing our children work on the problems, how they interacted and worked as a team can teach us all a lesson. Without a doubt watching how all of our young people support each other was what this was all about. They were all winners”
School Trustee Joe Armocida added, “this is one of my favorite programs in our schools because it challenges our young people and they are able to solve problems by being creative and working together.”
As Edward de Bono stated, “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” Odyssey of the Mind teaches students creative problem-solving skills while having fun. By tapping into creativity and through encouraging imaginative paths to problem-solving, students learn skills that will provide them with the ability to solve problems for a lifetime. It teaches students how to think divergently by providing open-ended problems that appeal to a wide range of interests. The creative problem-solving process rewards “outside of the box” thinking. While conventional thinking has an important place in education, students need to learn how to think creatively.
During one of the competitions, a truly heartening thing happened to a team who had a special needs student as part of their group. When the team got “stuck” in the competition, the teammates rallied and helped the student. The result was a strong performance by the entire team that earned them a second place finish and inspired everyone in attendance.
In preparation for the competition, students were invited to participate in a district-wide Odyssey of the Mind Program held at the ACE Program on Wednesdays from November to March. The children were encouraged to select a problem and develop a solution to their problem in teams. Working with their coaches, Ms. Cervone, Ms. Donnelly, Mrs. LaRegina and Mrs. Mannix, students learned the importance of teamwork and ways to creatively solve problems.
The “problems” students tackled during the competition ranged from: the stackable structure, seeing is believing, the not-so-haunted house, it’s how we rule and a driver’s test.