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Odyssey of the Mind creates a path to States

One of Bear River’s Odyssey of the Mind teams, Team Gato, performs at the Capitol Gold Regional Competition. Courtesy photo.

With the Regionals Competition long gone, taking place in Natomas on March 2, Bear River’s Odyssey of the Mind teams are preparing for their States competition on March 30.

This problem consists of two “parts”: the long-term problem and a spontaneous problem. During competition, the team performs their long-term solution to a panel of judges and an audience, which they were given the option of five different problems to solve over a span of several months. Though their spontaneous problem also plays a part in their total scoring. Spontaneous problems are given to the team on the spot and they have to solve it in a specific time period according to the type of Spont problem they are given. These problems are separated into three categories: Verbal, Verbal-Hands On, and Hands On.

The first of the two teams’ long term problem is Problem 3: Classics … Leonardo’s Workshop. In their performance, they have to depict Leonardo Da Vinci faced with a problem that is introduced by the patron character, “invent” an item that is typically used today, but is harshly “debunked” by the naysayer character.

The other team have a solution for Problem 2: Hide in Plain Sight, which includes a team-made mechanical creature that changes its appearance three times to avoid being found by the searcher character before revealing its true form.

Kyle McDaniel, Co-Coach with Erin Beatie, Bear River’s Theatre Manager, explained what he expects from the States competitors this year.

“So this year, it’s going to be different because California is divided into two different regions: Southern California and Northern California,” he said. “Although I would say we have the toughest teams to compete against. We have a lot of the Bay Area schools which put a lot of funding, time, and energy into their programs. Those are competitors this year.”

Despite the tough competition, Maddie Pratt, a sophomore, elaborated on what her team will be working hard on for the next week and a half before States to prepare.

“We are adjusting things so that it fits the point values … because we didn’t do that in Regionals … and fixing things that need to be fixed,” she said.

Junior Arieal Swindell explained what her team has been struggling the most with.

“Definitely the creature,” she stated. “I mean it is the main part of the problem and just … trying to figure out how to [make the machine do what it needs to do] properly and to still stick to the spirit of the problem and make it look good at the same time [is challenging].”

Whitney Lybbert described her team’s greatest struggles.

“Some of our team’s greatest struggles could sometimes communicating and finding good ways to agree on things,” she said.

Pratt explained what her personal goals are for the weeks to come.

“My main goals are to do our best and try to go to Worlds,” she said. “…I have a lot of family there and it would be really fun to perform for them. Team-wise, I want to go just because I love the team and I think it would be really fun and a cool experience to see all of the other teams and do our best there.”

Swindell also shared what she hopes to accomplish.

“The most cliche [is to] have fun,” she said. “It is coming towards the end of our years doing Odyssey and I’m not sure if we’ll even have enough for a team next year, so it could potentially be our last year doing it.”

According to Coach McDaniel, he participated in Odyssey of the Mind at the Division 1 level, but was unable to continue as it “wasn’t supported by the parents and faculty at that upper division level”. He explained why the Odyssey of the Mind program is so different since he was a participant.

“What I have seen, particularly with the Magnolia Intermediate and the Bear River High School programs is that it is, not only funded, but it is also very well supported by others inside the community,” he said. “ … I really enjoy how there is this continuity of community between Cottage Hill, Magnolia, and Bear River. So, that somebody could actually start that program in Division 1, like I did, and continue all the way through to high school level.”

He went on to show his thankfulness for the community.

“We thank everybody in the Bear River community for all their support,” he said. “We couldn’t do it without you.”

Many of the members of Odyssey provided what they are most excited about the competitions.

“I’m most excited about performing because that’s always fun even though it’s stressful, [which leads to], usually, a higher reward,” Lybbert stated.

“I am most excited about performing with my team and advancing in competition,” Sophomore Olivia Lyman said.

“I’m mostly excited about to see what other solutions look like in our problem and division because we had a hard time coming up with ideas,” Swindell said. “It’ll be really fun to see the other unique ideas people come up with and then how they solved them.”

“I am most excited about getting to see the other teams and getting to show our new and improved problem and see how it works,” said Pratt. “I like Odyssey because it’s a way to be crazy and creative. You can just kinda do what you feel and it can be as crazy as you want; there’s no limit to the creativity.”

Coach McDaniel commented on what he believes is most rewarding about being a coach.

“The most rewarding part is just spending time with my fellow BR’Omers,” he said. “ … They bring in so many different experiences, and it’s always neat to see the teamwork that comes into play with each individual person, adding and contributing in their own, unique way.”

Lyman described what makes Odyssey such a fun program.

“We do fun stuff, like hanging weird dolls that we find in containers,” she said. “Or we take our old designs and play baseball with them, and set them on fire. We do this because we love each other, and we’re on a metaphorical sugar high.”

As a final thought, Swindell also added what she enjoys about participating in Odyssey of the Mind.

“Gosh, everything,” she said. “…It’s really fun to come up with an idea that you don’t know whether it will or won’t work out, but when it does, that feeling afterwards is one of the best. Being able to show it off in competition to the judges and saying ‘Yeah, I made that, my team made that and we’re proud.’”

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Odyssey of the Mind creates a path to States