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Odyssey of the minds challenges DCSM students

The vehicle team with Sean Greely (back row) and DCS Montessori parent volunteer Jared Sosa (far right), were challenged to build, design and run a pirate vehicle that could complete a sequence of tasks. The tasks came complete with a team sea shanty and a song.

Odyssey of the Mind (OM™) teaches students how to develop and use their natural creativity to become problem-solvers. Founder Dr. Sam started OM™ in the 1970s in his innovative industrial design class at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Dr. Sam believed students should have fun learning while incorporating their own interest. Old items can be used in new ways and the way a question is asked is everything.

DCS Montessori (DCSM) Odyssey of the Minds vehicle and structural teams competed in the spring regional tournament in Erie and advanced to the April 15th state competition held in Eaton. DCSM upper elementary teacher Sean Grealy, with the help of DCSM parent Jared Sosa, began the first DCSM OM™ program last fall, forming teams for grades fourth through eighth. Problems were chosen and project work began in the new year. Grealy shared that “ultimately the goal is to give students a chance to engage with the problem-solving process. They are encouraged to use a truly hands-on and multidisciplinary approach to solve problems presented.”

There are six problems to compete in, which fall into major categories: vehicle, mechanical/technical, classics, structure, performance, and primary (for kindergarten through second grade). The vehicle team had a pirate theme this year. They were tasked with sailing their vehicle to reclaim stolen treasure, while battling a sea monster, before returning to the queen. The structural team’s task was to build a structure of balsa wood and glue that could balance and hold as much weight as possible. This problem had three parts hidden in plain sight, which were revealed during their performance and assembled into a final structure for testing.

In addition to their long-term projects, the teams had to come up with solutions to a spontaneous problem on the day of competitions, with no advance preparation. Solutions were judged based on efficacy as well as the creativity of the approach. Both were successful in presenting their solutions, and had a great time during the process. The structure team placed fourth in their category and the vehicle team placed second, advancing them to the World Competition, which was held at the end of May in Michigan.

Sean Greely with the structural team dressed in carnival theme assembled a structure made of balsa wood and glue with their performance including magic and a poem about searching for something special.

By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of DCS Montessori



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