Local Odyssey Of The Mind Teams Compete In State Competition

Local Odyssey of the Mind teams participated in the state level of the competition on Saturday, March 29, in Bristol. Some local teams are now busy fundraising to cover the expected costs of attending the upcoming world finals. A number of teams took the time this week, however, to reflect with The Bee on the Connecticut Odyssey of the Mind.

Odyssey of the Mind is the largest intellectual competition in the world. Teams of up to seven students select and solve one of five long-term problems that they present at the annual state competitions. The top 30 teams in each competing state then head to World Finals, where teams from more than 30 countries come together in the spirit of international competition. This year’s Odyssey of the Mind World Finals will be held at the end of May in Ames, Iowa.

The Newtown Middle School seventh grade team Einstein Monkeys, coached by Paula and Greg Martiska, placed first in its division.

Sean Connor, Miles Martiska, Ty Dickinson, and Bobby Elston make up Einstein Monkeys.

“For our long-term problem, our team built a stackable structure constructed out of balsa wood that held 232 pounds. We have now qualified to represent Connecticut in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals at Iowa State University in Ames on May 28th through May 31st. This is the third year in a row that the Einstein Monkeys have qualified for the World Finals,” Mrs Martiska said.

A Reed Intermediate School team, coached by Terry O’Connell and Elizabeth O’Connell, was made up by Casey Dunn, Lydia Harrison, Grace O’Connell, Nidhi Soman, Luke Sposato, and Julia Weiland.

“The team interpreted the theme given [the long term project] their own way and created a story and a whole skit,” Mr O’Connell said. “Their story involved two children on their way home from a Halloween party and the Not So Haunted events that follow. That included a trip to planet Planet, home of the zombies, and a return trip home, with a stow away — a vegetarian zombie. The story was great and the sets were stellar.”

Mr O’Connell also said his team scored the second highest for all age groups at the state level of the competition in Style, “a category,” Mr O’Connell explained, “that describes the way a team displays, engineers, create, and shows off their talents.”

Another Reed Intermediate School Odyssey of the Mind team — Nidhi Mukka, Ben Paley, Ethan Paley, Andre Boily, and Elijah Baraw and coached by Sunitha Mukka — completed the Seeing Is Believing project, according to the coach, who said, “They did their best performance at the competition. The best part was they enjoyed participating in the competition. Though one of the team members was almost sick at the competition, the team encouraged him and made him feel better and finally made it to the end of competition.

“Most of my team members were doing it for the first time,” the coach continued. “They were amazed to see the number of teams participating and also how creative the other teams were. It was a wonderful experience being a coach. I got to see how creative the team was, how they appreciated each others work and learned more about team work. The team always had lots of energy and creative ideas. They enjoyed the time they worked together and were always looking forward for the next class. They have learned their ideas are valuable, sometimes learned that their ideas are silly and need to adjust their thinking.”


Fostering Teamwork

According to Ethan Paley, the students worked throughout the year to learn how to work as a team to hone their imagination, create, make friendships, follow rules, how to be fair, and how to be responsible.

“I learned how to work as a team, and I learned how to listen to both sides of an argument before coming to a decision!” said Ben Paley.

“Odyssey of the Mind was a wonderful experience,” Nidhi Mukka said, marveling at the teamwork. “While having lot of fun, I also learned how to work together with my team. In the beginning it was kind of tough, but at the end we all learned how to work together as a team. It was truly amazing.”

The Newtown Middle School Team B, coached by Ted Wojcik and Curt Brantl, earned The Jill Riggles Award. According to the Connecticut Odyssey of the Mind, the award is given to teams with the highest spontaneous score at the yearly State Tournament. NMS team members who earned the award are Matt Brantl, Caitlyn Child, Tristan Filiato, Ted Wojcik, Isabella Coscia, Jeremy Larkin, and Dillon Larkin.

A Newtown High School team, coached by Robin Fitzgerald, also earned the Jill Riggles Award at the Connecticut Odyssey of the Mind. Those team members are Hannah Fitzgerald, Zachary Weiland, Jesse Sailor, Sydney Chiarito, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Jake Emmerthal.

“This team won First Place in Division 3, Problem 3, It’s How We Rule, and qualified to compete at the World Finals at Iowa State University in May,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

Ms Fitzgerald also served as coach on a middle school team, made up by Quinn Fitzgerald, Connor Munro, Alexandra Watson, AJ Salaris, Owen Walsh, Barrett DeYoung, and Matt Lundquist.

“This team won Third Place in Division 2, Problem 5, Seeing Is Believing,” said Ms Fitzgerald about her middle school team. “They missed qualifying for Worlds by just a few points in a very competitive category.”

A Reed Intermediate School team, coached by Kristina Tartaglia was also awarded the Jill Riggles Award, according to the coach. Her team’s members are Joseph Tartaglia, Harel Halevi, Luke Sordi, Julian Totir, Willem Doherty, Maddie Hintze, and Mackenzie Hughes.

“Our team worked for five months on their problem. It is such a worthwhile problem-solving program for kids. At the state tournament on Saturday… my team came in Fourth Place for Division 1, Problem 2, The Not So Haunted House,” Ms Tartaglia said.


Another Top Team

Newtown High School Odyssey of the Mind coach Dawn Gray’s team — Lincoln Gray, Shaina Stamp, Matthew Argraves, Owen Gray, Katie Wojcik, and Charlotte Gray — received First Place in the vehicle competition at the state finals, according to Ms Gray.

“This is the final year for Shaina, Katie, and Charlotte since they are seniors. If they choose to continue, they may at the college level,” Ms Gray said. “They have been in Odyssey since sixth grade. It has been a big commitment for them and they rose to the occasion every year, being a top team in the state for seven years.”

Ms Gray later added, “Newtown should be proud of the way they have represented Reed, the middle school and Newtown High School for all these years. We will miss them!”

Coach Carol Shuman’s team, called The Modern Einsteins, was made up of Julia Shuman, Jacob Shuman, Scott Preszler, Nick Preszler, Rachel Tramposch, Lucy Draper, and Sydney Marino.

“This is their third year competing. They placed third this year in Division 2. Their long-term problem was titled ‘It’s How We Rule.’ They had a great time and can’t wait to win next year,” said Ms Shuman.

Coach Catherine Filiato's Reed Intermediate School team members Rebecca Filiato, Taegan Smith, Claire Fiordelisi, Riley Burns, Charlotte Branchflower, and Olivia Buchler completed the "How We Rule" long-term problem. The team created a skit that included a portrayal of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand's Court, which in the skit decreed no hats could be worn. The skit also included a caveman court that decreed its subjects would no longer be permitted to eat meat.

"The team earned fourth place in Division 1 for the problem," Ms Filiato said.

Coach D.J. Ledina’s team members are Anika Ledina, Annie Fowler, Sophia Child, Chelsea Fowler, Tyler Hill, Myles Ku, and Aryan Lahiri.

“No one had ever competed in Odyssey before,” Mr Ledina said. “All were thrilled with the experience and seek to return to the tournament next year.”

John Jerfy coached Odyssey of the Mind Team Underdogs, made up by Adam Guerin, Jesse Kinsmann, Justin Peck, Rushil Jerfy, Leah McCafferty, and Michael Elston.

“Team Underdogs comprised of fifth and sixth graders from Reed Intermediate School finished fourth in their group at Odyssey of the Mind 2014 State Finals,” Mr Jerfy said. “The team name came about because most of the team members were first timers at [Odyssey of the Mind] and they were taking on older and more experienced teams in the finals. The team was competing in Division 2 [sixth to eighth graders] and they had also selected one of the more difficult long-term problems to work on. It involved constructing a ride-on vehicle with two different propulsion systems. But the team proved that age and experience are no barriers when it comes to creativity and fun.”

Catherine Filiato said her Odyssey of the Mind team also worked on the long-term problem How We Rule.

“The team’s skit included a portrayal of Queen Isabella’s and King Ferdinand’s Court which decreed that no hats could be worn and they created a caveman court which decreed its subjects would no longer be permitted to eat meat. The team earned fourth place in Division 1 for the problem,” said Ms Filiato.

Some Odyssey of the Mind that will be attending World Finals are now planning local fundraisers and searching for sponsors.


The Bunny Watch

Robin Fitzgerald’s high school Odyssey of the Mind team will be bringing the Bunny Watch back to Fairfield Hills this year. For the past few years the Bunny Watch, while serving as an Odyssey of the Mind World Finals fundraiser, has provided hayrides, a bouncy house, fun activities for young kids, and more behind Glander Field.

This year’s Bunny Watch is set for 10 am to 4 pm, Friday, April 18, and Saturday, April 19. Rides will cost $5 per rider and each participant will be given a tally sheet to “count” each bunny seen along the path.

Ms Fitzgerald also said other teams may announce fundraisers in the coming weeks before World Finals.

Sponsors interested in helping the team cover the cost of attending World Finals can contact Ms Fitzgerald by e-mail at rlf222@aol.com.

Additional information about the event can be found here

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