Following the Connecticut State Odyssey of the Mind Tournament, held on April 6 in Bristol, five of Newtown’s participating teams will be heading to the World Finals in Michigan, set for May 22 through 25.
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.
Overall 12 teams from Newtown participated in the Connecticut State Odyssey of the Mind Tournament. According to Odyssey of the Mind Coach Robin Fitzgerald, Newtown was represented by teams from Hawley Elementary School, Middle Gate Elementary School, Reed Intermediate School, Newtown Middle School, and Newtown High School.
Both participating teams from Newtown High School will be heading to the World Finals, along with a team from Newtown Middle School and two teams from Reed Intermediate School.
Odyssey of the Mind teams typically work from October through March to prepare solutions to the problems chosen each year for the competition, according to Ms Fitzgerald.
“My team took the top spot in the technical problem against fierce competition from Brookfield, New Canaan, and Norwalk High School teams,” said NHS Odyssey of the Mind Coach Ann Ziluck. “They built a miniature motorized ski lift that received top scores for design and creativity, as well as for costume design and face painting.”
Ms Ziluck also shared praise for all of Newtown’s participating teams at the Connecticut State Odyssey of the Mind Tournament.
“Dawn Gray’s NHS team did a performance that had the entire audience, including the judges, in tears, and which received a standing ovation,” Ms Ziluck said. “Their performance was about how the kids felt during and after the Sandy Hook tragedy. It was brilliantly done and a privilege to watch.”
Paula Martiska, one of the coaches for the Reed Intermediate School sixth grade Odyssey of the Mind team called “Einstein Monkeys,” said her team placed second in its division, and this will be the second year in a row the team has qualified for World Finals.
To cover the cost of traveling and participating in the World Finals a number of the teams will be planning fundraisers in the next month.
A Reed Intermediate School fifth grade team called “The Dover Donuts” co-coached by Daryl Maurath and Barbara Strashun, have already scheduled two carwashes and bake sales to be held at Botsford Fire Rescue, 315 South Main Street, for April 27 and May 11, from 10 am to 2 pm.
Odyssey of the Mind Team Coach Carol Shuman said her team — which comprises students from Newtown Middle School, Reed Intermediate School, and Sandy Hook School — came in third place in the state level of the tournament.
“Although they didn’t make it to world finals this year, they are all excited to get their next year,” said Ms Shuman.