Assignment: Education – La Crosse students attend world competition

Spence Elementary School students advance to Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

Solving problems is the name of the game.

“You have to think a lot,” said Dexter Osborne, Spence Elementary fourth-grader.

A group of Spence Elementary School students in La Crosse are sharpening their critical thinking skills by taking part in a program called Odyssey of the Mind.

“I thought it would be a good experience,” said Lucas Miller, Spence Elementary fourth-grader.

“It’s creative problem solving and team building, basically, to build those life skills that, ‘If I come across a situation I don’t know, how to work with or how to solve, what can I do differently. How can I think about it in a unique way,'” said Tara Craig, Odyssey of the Mind coach and fifth-grade teacher at Spence Elementary.

This team was formed in October, at which time they began to work on their chosen problem.

“They always have five to choose from,” said Craig, “and they chose one called Something Fishy.”

The team started the problem-solving process by reading through the eight-page set of strict guidelines and brainstorming ideas.

“And then what they do is they take all the ideas and they have to condense it into an eight-minute or less skit at the state level in Madison,” said Craig.

In March, these student actors took first place at the state competition.

“Pretty much my whole entire group and I were flipping out, and everybody from our school,” said Osborne.

That’s because the winning Odyssey of the Mind team moves on to a much bigger stage.

“We’re going to Iowa for World Finals,” said Miller.

“This is the second time, in the 14 years that I’ve been doing this, that we’ve had a Spence team make it to world finals,” said Craig.

To prepare for the next level of competition, the students are able to review their score sheet from state.

“They will take this same solution, but they can modify it,” said Craig. “They can modify their props and they present that at the world level.”

The hope is that all of their work will help the students reach their ultimate goal when they compete in the world competition.

“To have fun and have a good time,” said Miller.

“I’m just excited to compete and meet people from all over the world,” said Osborne.

These goals won’t take a lot of problem solving to accomplish.

The Odyssey of the Mind World Finals take place next week from May 25-28 at Iowa State University.

More than eight-hundred teams from around the world in grades three through 12 will be competing.