BREVARD COUNTY — This month, a team of fourth grade students from R.L. Stevenson Elementary School will compete for the title of “World Champions” at the Odyssey of the Mind Finals Competition at Michigan State University.
To help send off the six students, their parents, coaches and materials, the team has been raising funds to alleviate the costs of travel. To date, the students have raised $745 of their $10,000 goal.
The fourth graders recently took home first place after attending the 2019 State Championship at the University of Central Florida, and will represent not just Brevard County, but the state of Florida, during the world competition.
“When we do good, it’s when we have a lot of fun,” said team member Thomas Thering.
“The best thing is that it opens more creative thinking,” added team member Clarice Hafizi.
Since the beginning of the school year, the team has been working on one component that involves the use of critical thinking in an eight-minute skit.
The Finals Competition is scheduled to take place from May 22-25, and the fourth grade students from R.L. Stevenson Elementary School will perform a series of tasks in front of judges; one of which is called “spontaneous” and will be assigned behind closed doors so the coaches can’t help.
What the students can prepare for is a task based on a five-page guide describing a problem that the team must solve together in the most creative way they can.
The R.L. Stevenson students must create a vehicle that can be assembled, taken apart, and re-assembled during their skit; as well as rescue a “friend” and move packages with their vehicle.
The fourth graders have come up with a creative underwater theme that involves diving into the Marianas Trench to find a pirate’s lost beard, and saving a princess from Davy Jones’ Locker.
“First we thought we’d do a yellow submarine for the vehicle but then it was too complex,” said team member Justin Gibbs.
“But then we figured out we had to do something with the OMER-mobile [based on an Odyssey of the Mind character],” added team member Daniel DeVries. “We had these screws and we had to untie them, and we had to be faster.”
“They redesigned their vehicle in January to make it faster to take apart and put back together,” said Team Coach Lisa DeVries. “The concept was evolving over many months, but the one thing they told me after they went to state last year [as third graders] was that they wanted big props. We had a bunch of props on poles and they wanted 3D stuff because the winning teams had that. Even though [my team] got third place, they didn’t do shabby at all.”
Now in their second year of the Odyssey of the Mind teams, the important lessons they’ve learned from their problem solving involves friendship, creativity and flexibility, according to team member Ainara Bengoa.
“What makes a good team is having two good coaches,” said team member Kyle Samson of Lisa and her husband, Brandon, who co-lead the fourth-grade team.
“It gives them confidence,” Mrs. DeVries said. “I love watching them go from developing a concept on a whiteboard to being able to perform in front of judges.”
To help support R.L. Stevenson’s fourth graders attend the Odyssey of the Mind Finals Competition, visit GoFundMe.com and search for “RLS Odyssey World Finals Team.”