A small group of students from George H.W. New Tech Odessa will be exercising their mental muscles in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals May 23 through May 26.
Biology facilitator and Odyssey of the Mind coach Elias Martinez said he is taking seven students to the competition in Ames, Iowa. Teams from around the world will compete in the event, which puts students’ problem-solving skills and creativity to the test.
Martinez said they went to state competition in Houston April to qualify.
Some 837 teams of seven from 33 states and 13 countries are expected to participate in the world competition, spokesperson Jennifer Veale said.
Martinez said the students will be able to interact with other team members and take part in a pin exchange, creativity and international festivals.
For its problem, the New Tech team has to create a structure that is no more than eight inches high and weigh no more than 15 grams. The goal of the structure is to support as much weight as possible before it collapses, Martinez said.
The structure has to be disguised as an animal. Martinez said the team was given a list of animals and they selected a whale.
“So they made a whale costume. Once it leaves its house, that’s when they take the costume off and place it in the weight support system. Then they start placing the weights over it until it basically collapses,” Martinez said.
“They have a skit going on the entire time. The first part is the skit with the structure. The second part will be a spontaneous challenge, which at that point is totally random and we don’t know until the day of, basically once we’re up there. So it could be anything as far as a verbal hands-on, which is where they have to come up with creative sayings for something, or they have to build something and try and sell, or they’re just given random objects and they have to try and create a catapult to shoot something as far as possible,” he added.
Team members were recently making corrections and modifications to get the structure right and to be able to transport it to Iowa.
Liette Ruiz, a 17-year-old junior, Emmanuel Garcia, a 15-year-old freshman, Jodn Morales, a 17-year-old junior and Brianna Amparan, a 16-year-old junior are some of the participants. All are excited to get a chance at world competition.
“I’m so ready to meet other people from … different countries and see their ideas and what they’re bringing to the table to this competition,” Ruiz said.
Garcia said he thinks it will be a fun experience overall, because going to state and seeing what other teams are doing and what your team can do better is an eye-opener.
“I think it’s such a great opportunity to learn about new cultures and just to meet other people from other parts of the world because you rarely get kind of that opportunity,” Amparan said. “None of us have been to worlds, except one of our other team members and she only had good things to say about it so I’m really excited and also a little nervous because I’m not the best at socializing. But I feel like they’ll be friendly and I’ll feel right at ease with it.”
The team feels fairly confident that they can make a good showing at worlds.
“I think that we’ll do well overall. Other teams are pretty good, but I think that we can do better than them. It’s not just fact of how we perform, it’s how we feed off each other and I think we’re very positive for that,” Garcia said.
Ruiz said she would like to participate in Odyssey of the Mind again next year. She added that when she was a freshman, that’s where she made some of her closest friends.
“I think it is a great way to make new friends and bond with people that you’ve never met before. I also think it’s a great life experience because you’re working as a team to do something great to go on to competition be there (to) … support each other,” Ruiz said.