‘Very Excited’

Robert H. Jackson Elementary Team Makes States In Odyssey Of The Mind Competition

Frewsburg’s Odyssey of the Mind team, made up of Nora Nelson, Anastazia Morris, Elleighana Lamb, Temperance Trusso, Allison Steubing. The team just recently qualified for states. Submitted photo

FREWSBURG — A team of fourth graders at Robert H Jackson Elementary have made it to states in the Odyssey of the Mind Competition.

Odyssey of the Mind allows for teams to use their creative and problem solving skills to solve problems they are presented with, falling under both long-term and spontaneous categories. Teams compete in age brackets ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade. In the long-term category teams are presented with six different choices and for the spontaneous competition teams do not know anything about the problem they will be presented with until they get there and are given three choices.

Problems can be verbal or hands-on or both, allowing them to do things such as building a bridge out of cups, but mostly having teams show how they can work together and problem solve as a team.

Adviser for the Frewsburg team, JoAn Waterman, said that the competition focuses on each team creating a skit and showing how to solve their given problems.

“For the long-term problems, when they pick one they have to create a skit and have costumes and props they make themselves,” Waterman said. “They make all of their own costumes and materials, using recycled materials. There’s a low cost limit and they have eight minutes to perform to show how they would solve the problem.”

Teams are given a list of what they are not allowed to do in the skit and also a list of some things they have to do, such as including different hairstyles or items.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Waterman said she had a team for Frewsburg competing in Odyssey of the Mind for about three years and just now got another team back together. They started practicing in January.

Competitions start with the Region competition, where teams get a numerical score and place first, second or third. All first place teams advance to States and then if they win that they advance to the Worlds in Iowa, which is an international competition.

A lot of practice was involved for Frewsburg’s team to make it to states.

“They had to practice every day, working on scripts, props and costs,” Waterman said. “We practice about three days a week after school for around an hour to an hour and a half. The regional competition was in Salamanca and was open to the public.”

Waterman said her team, which is made up of all girls this year, had four teams overall in their division/age group. At the States in Syracuse, there will be roughly 20 other teams, with around 320 overall. She added that this is something the team pretty much works on by themselves and her role is to help and give suggestions where needed.

The competition ends with the Worlds, but Waterman said that they will definitely do it again next year. Every team has a registration fee and if she wants to expand to get more than one team out of Frewsburg, each team is required to have a different coach. Teams can have up to seven members but Waterman’s current team is made up of five girls. The team is also open to both girls and boys.

Waterman hopes to expand next year to include third, fourth and fifth grades, but said she would need another coach to do so. She expects to start training again for next year in September.

Making it to States this year means a lot for both Waterman and her team.

“The girls are very excited,” Waterman said. “They’ve worked very hard. This is technically my fourth year coaching this competition because we didn’t do it during Covid, but I am very proud of them and very excited. They’ve put a lot of time and work into it.”

There’s a lot for the team to remember, and Waterman added they are also allowed to edit and fix some parts of their prepared skits between the Region and State competition. Waterman has not had a team make it to states before when coaching for Frewsburg, so she said she is very excited and proud of her team.

If anyone is interested in knowing more about Odyssey of the Mind or creating their own team for their school, Waterman encouraged people to reach out to her. Frewsburg is also the only school in Chautauqua County participating, with most teams coming from Cattaraugus County.

“If any other school is interested I am happy to help get a team started,” Waterman said. “There’s not a lot of achievements available like this for students and it’s a great opportunity to learn creative and problem solving skills and teamwork.”

Waterman can be reached at jwaterman@frewsburgcsd.org.


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