by Terry Rogers
Milford High School and Milford Central Academy’s Odyssey of the Mind Teams traveled to World Finals at Michigan State University May 22 through 25. The groups competed against more than 900 teams from around the world to demonstrate their skills in solving problems and presenting their solution. Milford High School placed second in the Technical/Engineering problem, losing to the first place team by only three points.
“The team showed ingenuity, teamwork, creativity and excellence in their Long Term Solution, the Style Component and the Spontaneous Competition,” Judith Wood, adviser for the group, said. “Their performance was awe-inspiring and made me proud to have worked with these students and their coaches for the past six years. They exemplify all that is great about Milford School District and the community of Milford.”
The MHS team consisted of Caleb Brownstein, Delaney Dillon, Bella Keesler-Evans, Ry’Ana Johnson, Bethany Pasmore, Donny Pasmore and Welington Rosario. Johnson explained that she joined the program when she was in 7th grade at the suggestion of her friend Bethany Pasmore. Rosario joined the club last year as a sophomore because a friend said they needed an additional member. Teams may not have more than seven members.
“We start in August which is earlier than some other teams,” Johnson said. “As soon as the problem comes out, we begin planning what we want to do. Our first meetings are usually brainstorming sessions as we look at the question and begin planning what we need to do. We then travel to Regionals where we take the feedback we are given and make adjustments. After States, we do the same thing with Nationals as our goal.”
There are several question options and Johnson explained that the Milford team usually selects the second one as it is a technical or engineering problem, an area in which their members seem to excel. This year the question was related to “Hiding in Plain Sight.” They created a creature that could “hide in plain sight” as well as a finder creature that would be able to locate the hidden creature. Once they developed a plan, they were required to write a script and act out a play demonstrating their work.
“It takes a lot of leadership and teamwork,” Rosario said. “You have to work with a lot of different personalities so you have to learn the best way to work together. There is also a style element that we are graded on for creativity. I am a stereotypical jock, on the wrestling and track team, so at first, I struggled with the aspect of thinking creatively. It wasn’t how I was used to thinking but I came to really enjoy it. I recommend that any student joining this group should jump in with both feet because you learn so much.”
Johnson agreed that it was important to jump in and start working from the beginning. She pointed out that Odyssey of the Mind uses a lot of different strengths so it is unlike any other extra-curricular activity.
“It doesn’t matter if you are weak in one subject because someone else will be strong in that subject while you may be strong in a subject someone else is not,” Johnson, who plans to go to college to become a veterinarian, said. “Everyone works as a team. It is like sports for nerds.”
Many of the students who go through the program return to help as coaches. Johnson plans to work with the Milford Central Academy team next year while Rosario has not committed to being a coach but would enjoy assisting a team in the future.
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