CLARKS SUMMIT — A group of fifth-graders from Abington Heights Middle School advanced to the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, the largest creative problem-solving competition in the world.
For the past nine months, team members Siena Bossi, Gigi Butala, Sadie Gilbert, Amelia Gonzalez, Sadie O’Brien, Marli Tinkelman, and Madeleine Walsh worked together to solve an assigned problem that involved production of a mockumentary based on the popular children’s classic, “Charlotte’s Web.”
In order to solve the problem, the team developed an original script, and designed and produced a theatrical performance, including design and construction of a portable set, as well as props and costumes.
Team coach Julie Tinkelman supervised; however, she was not allowed to help the team in any way.
“Everything about their performance – from the script, to costumes and sets – all of it was 100 percent envisioned and created by the girls,” Tinkelman said.
The team won first place at the Odyssey of the Mind Regional Competition March 17, and on April 7 advanced to the World Competition as one of only two Pennsylvania teams in their division to win at the state level.
“Many of the participating teams have been involved in the competition starting in elementary school and the fact that none of the Abington Heights girls had ever participated in the competition before makes their achievement truly remarkable,” Tinkelman said. “It has been amazing to watch each one of these girls grow. They have grown in their creativity, ability to problem solve and work under pressure, in their confidence and in their ability to effectively and constructively communicate with each other. They have far exceeded my expectations in every way.”
The Odyssey of the Mind World Competition is a five-day event to be held at Iowa State University May 23-27. The Abington Heights team will compete against teams from all 50 states and around the world.
Since its inception in 1978, Odyssey of the Mind has recognized the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skills, and has partnered with organizations such as NASA, IBM and Microsoft in order to help students develop the skills and experiences needed by future scientists. Odyssey of the Mind has also challenged students to incorporate creative problem solving into learning, requiring students to perform not just in the sciences, but in the arts as well.