In their first year of competing, five students from Desert Junior High School will compete at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals Tournament May 23 at Iowa State University, joining hundreds of other students from all over the world.
Daniel Fernandez, Calvin Weaver, Garron Ireton, Austin Sandwich and Anthony Quinnert received the opportunity to compete at the World Finals as a result of winning Odyssey of the Mind South/Central Valley Regional and California State competitions.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international problem-solving and creative-thinking competition for students that began in 1978 and has grown to include participants from the United States and approximately 25 other nations. Fostering values that will stay with participants for a lifetime, students are given a limited budget and challenged to use unlimited creativity to solve a problem.
“I’m bursting with pride,” said the group’s coach, Susan Weaver. “The group has an incredible ability to work together through the ups and downs while tackling various aspects of the problems. They’ve worked so hard, it’s great to see them so enthusiastic.”
The competition asked students to design and construct a vehicle driven by two methods of propulsion and must display four emotions, as well as perform a special effect. The group must navigate a predetermined course, which includes traveling in reverse.
Presenting the vehicle is part of a required 8-minute skit, which includes props and costumes.
“The group received the rules for the competition last October and since them has met two times a week after school, plus one time a week during lunch and one Saturday a month,” said Weaver. “I would have to say that each student has spent more than 120 hours working on the project.”
Weaver attributes much of their success to creativity, how well the group works together, and their ability to recognize each other’s strengths. Completing the project required a variety of skills from woodworking, painting, engineering, writing, public speaking and creating props and costumes.
“Each student brings something so unique to the table and it’s great because everybody recognizes that and they really use that knowledge for the benefit of the group,” said Weaver.
Combining their talents and skills, together the group came up with a winning combination for their skit and solution to the problem they were presented back in October.
“The skit takes place in New York City after global warming has run its course,” said Calvin. “With most of the world flooded, we’re on our way to a refugee camp for rescuing survivors.”
To incorporate a special effect into the skit, during their journey to the refugee camp, a shark attack occurs, leaving the group to scare it away using a spring-loaded canister with confetti as a torpedo.
With the team’s success at the regional and state competitions, the group looks forward to seeing how other students from all over the world approached the problem and even getting an introduction of what college life is like.
“The World Finals will be a great experience for the team,” said Weaver. “They’ll have the opportunity to meet students from all over the world, see how they approached the problem, and even have the opportunity to live in the dorms while we’re there.”
For now, the team will continue to prepare for the competition; ensuring their vehicle, props, script, and costumes are competition-ready. The opportunity to compete at the World Finals gives the Desert Junior High School team the opportunity to make new friend and demonstrate their impressive teamwork and problem solving skills.
“Besides being able to compete with students from all over the world, I’m really looking forward to see other teams and what they came up with,” said Calvin.
While Calvin looks forward to seeing how others addressed the problem, his teammate Austin looks forward to meeting new people.
“I’m really excited about the competition. I think it will be an opportunity to make lots of new friends,” said Austin.
All five students will make the trip to Iowa, as well as two coaches. The total cost for the team to attend the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals at Iowa State University is $7,380. The team is accepting donations to help minimize costs that average out to approximately $1,130 per person.
For more information about supporting the students in their educational accomplishments, contact Shay Wallace at Desert Junior High School at (661) 524-3837.