Students from Biddeford Intermediate School (BIS) and Biddeford High School (BHS) won first place at the Odyssey of the Mind State Finals held at Noble High School on March 26. The win qualified both teams to go to the World Finals from May 25-28 at the University of Iowa. Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving competition in which teams of students select a problem and work to come up with a solution. The teams from BIS and BHS both focused on “Odyssey ReOMvention” - thinking of a threat to the environment and coming up with a plan to remove it.
“Working with students who participate in Odyssey of the Mind is a totally different experience than teaching curriculum in the classroom,” said Victoria Salo, Odyssey of the Mind District Coordinator and BHS Science Teacher. “Students are given a problem and without any outside assistance, they need to solve the problem while performing a skit about the topic. Coaches can only ask questions but it is amazing to see the solutions they come up with and the creativity that goes into the skits, props, costumes, and technical devices.”
Problems are judged on creativity and risk-taking. Students learn how to manage time and money, share ideas and negotiate with one another, as well as how to perform in front of an audience. BIS coach Karen Ramunno added, “Seeing students think on their own was so amazing. As their coach, my favorite moments were the ‘Ah-ha!’ moments, when they came up with an idea that answers part of the problem they are trying to solve. Seeing these kids collaborate and work together as a team at such a young age was very rewarding.”
Biddeford High School team members are busy preparing for their trip to Iowa and are currently planning fundraisers to help cover the expenses they will incur as they progress to the World Finals competition. "They are determined to raise the funds needed to cover the cost of the trip." Salo shared.
The four team members going to World Finals are eighth-grader Emily Michael, freshmen Eva Aranovitch and Ella Ireland, and junior Cam Roberge. Aranovitch and Ireland were members of the Biddeford Middle School team that took first place last year in the state-level competition and won the prestigious Ranatra Fusca Award for exceptional creativity. Due to COVID restrictions in 2021, the World competition was held virtually rather than in-person. The team ranked 25th in the world.
Also competing for Biddeford at the State Finals were a team from Biddeford Middle School and a second-team from Biddeford Intermediate School with both teams securing third place in their respective divisions. To stay informed of BHS students' journey to Worlds and ways in which to help support the team, visit their Odyssey of the Mind Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/biddOotM.