An Odyssey of the Mind team from Pine View Middle School will head to the OM World competition in Ames, Iowa, at the end of May.
Another OM team from Land O’ Lakes High School also qualified for the international competition, but is not going because of the competition’s timing. All of the members on that team are graduating seniors and are busy with senior year activities.
A total of six of the 57 Pasco County teams that competed at the state level qualified for the international contest. The other qualifying teams are Mitchell and Gulf high schools, Deer Park Elementary and Seven Springs Middle schools.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international program that encourages youths to work together as teams to use their creative and analytical skills to solve problems.
The Pine View team, which placed second in its division, tackled a problem called “Not So Haunted House.”
The Pine View team — made up of Cameron Mitchell, Zachery Dahm, Tristan Wiles, Cody Schwartz, Caleb Leeb and Timmy Heuser — is psyched about competing at worlds. They’ll battle 67 teams from such places as Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, India, Russia and Great Britain.
Some team members think they have a pretty good shot for a good showing at worlds. Others aren’t so sure. “It’s not necessarily about if we’re in the top or in the bottom. We made it to worlds. That says something,” said Tristan Wiles, whose mother, Stacy Wiles, coaches the team.
Schwartz is looking forward to the experience, no matter how the team does.
“I get to meet people from around the world,” he said.
When it came to solving the problem at state, the team had no trouble figuring out their theme, Heuser said. But agreeing to the approach to use was more challenging.
“Everybody wanted to do their own thing, and then nobody understood what the other person was saying,” Heuser said.
Leeb agreed, joking: “Success is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration and 100 percent bickering.”
But they worked through it, Stacy Wiles noted.
“It was not an easy process and that’s what makes it so cool,” the coach said.
It’s a balancing act, Tristan Wiles said.
“We all have to come together to create a solution,” Tristan Wiles said. “We all have to be one team, in order to solve the problem. That’s the whole point of this. You need to learn how to work well with each other. You need to learn to listen to each other.”
The coach has confidence in them because they are funny, creative, resourceful and kind, Stacy Wiles said.
Each team member brings different strengths. Mitchell and Dahm are good at tackling logistics and engineering. Tristan Wiles is artistic. Schwartz places a key role in writing the script. Heuser helps keep things rolling and does considerable backstage work.
The team must cover its own expenses for the trip, but Pine View’s PTSA and Pasco County Schools both contributed $1,000 each to help cover the costs, the coach said.
Although the Land O’ Lakes team isn’t traveling to worlds, team members — Rachel Granruth, Victoria Arriaga, Dalton Sihite, Blake Lash, Raelynn Lewis, Taylore Presta, and Jenny Huynh — are delighted that they qualified.
They used an out-of-this-world approach to tackling their challenge, which was called “Driver’s Test.” The vehicle they made traveled through space, in their imaginary world.
Their skit included alien beings that worshipped Beyoncé and channeled Justin Bieber. They adapted songs from stage musicals such as “The Book of Mormon” and “Hairspray,” and they incorporated solar flares and shooting stars in their story line.
In short, they had a blast coming up with ideas and executing them.
They also spent a lot of time working together to prepare for the state competition.
“You learn some practical skills. I know how to sew now,” Sihite said.
“I know how to use power tools,” Huynh said.
“Everyone is good at something,” Arriaga said. “You build on each other’s ideas.”
Lewis thinks more students should get involved in OM.
“It’s a really interesting mix of sciences and arts,” she said.
Many members of the team have been doing OM for years, Lash said. He was even coached by Stacy Wiles when he attended Pine View.
Lash has been involved, he said, because it’s fun. Other teammates agreed.
Andrew Southwick, the OM sponsor for the Land O’ Lakes team, is a former OM competitor. He was impressed by the team’s performance.
“Their personalities are a little bit intense,” Southwick said, but they worked well together. “It’s good to see that creativity isn’t dead.”
Published May 14, 2014