Tuesday, March 21, 2006 • Seven Janesville teams to compete in Odyssey of the Mind State Finals

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, March 21, 2006, edition of the Lassen County Times.

A sensational, top-ranking weekend at the North State Odyssey of the Mind Regional Tournament means every Janesville Elementary School team in grades three through eight will be competing in the California State Finals in Sacramento, California on Saturday, April 1.

Janesville School sent 42 of its gifted and talented students from kindergarten through eighth grade to the March 11 tournament to compete against 88 other teams from California for the opportunity to represent the North State Region.

The competition required each team to creatively present solutions for six different long-term problems. Participants were judged on their solutions and on the creativity and artistic merit of their presentation.

The seven Janesville School teams scored top-ranking honors in the end with teams taking first place in six contests and second place in the seventh.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international problem-solving program often used by schools to supplement their GATE programs.

It emphasizes independent problem solving, which involves students coming up with and creating their own solutions to problems without using outside assistance.

Janesville School GATE Coordinator Janet Starcevich said the competition is an excellent resource for gifted and talented students.

“Gifted students who are successful in school have been found to be very busy with challenging activities outside of the school day,” she said. “Odyssey of the Mind offers difficult problems that need to be solved over an extended period of time. Students who succeed in difficult tasks gain confidence in their abilities.

“I am very excited to see the number of talented students from Janesville School who are taking on this kind of challenge.”

The seven Janesville teams tackled a number of long-term problems in the regional tournament including “The Great Parade.”

Sixth grade students designed, built and drove a vehicle that converted into three different vehicles while they presented a play.

A junior high team competed in the Classics-Ancient Egypt problem. In their original performance they created a scene set in Ancient Egypt and incorporated humor in their explanation of the construction of an ancient architectural structure.

Another two teams, the Janesville Crushers, who are in fifth grade, and a sixth and seventh grade team, competed in the Geometry Structure problem.

The Crushers competed in the same area last year and ended up surmounting both the regional and state competitions before they moved on to the World Finals in Boulder, Colorado.

This year, both teams created a balsa wood structure weighing less than 15 grams and able to balance and support as much weight as possible. Both teams took first in their division.

The younger grades, kindergarten, first and second, competed in the Primary Division. They created and presented an original performance about traveling through outer space.

Their problem involved creating a device to retrieve two samples from a new planet they discovered and encountering another space traveler.

One of the teams was coached by Lassen High School students Holly Bricker and Bethel Walton as a community service LEAP project.

Competing for Janesville School at the Odyssey of the Mind Regional Tournament were:

  • Primary Division Space Trek — Students include Lindsay Noggles, Roxie Nebel, Emily Egan, D’Arcey Erlich, Max Dandois and Holly Fortin who were coached by Carey Erlich. Also competing in the Primary Division solving the Space Trek problem were Alec Kuzmack, Stone Diggs, Emily Carter and Katie Kennedy. They were coached by Holly Bricker and Bethel Walton.
  • Geometry Structure Division One — The Janesville Crushers is coached by Cliff and Carla Arnold and consists of students Jacob Ostmeyer, Trever Arnold, Claudia Lopez, Aaron Carter, Ana Starcevich, Madisyn Harlan and Hannah Fortin.
  • Geometry Structure Division Two — Students include Paul Starcevich, Matthew Anderson, Beth Kessler, Alex Lopez and James Melander who are coached by Janet Starcevich.
  • Tech Transfer Division One — Coached by Russ and Lori Collier and includes students Garrison Collier, Frankie Shepherd, Frances Lopez, Rylie Egan, Destiny Genaw and Calder Bailey.
  • Ancient Egypt Division Two — Students Megan Lopez, Joe Meyer, Suzanne Kanavel, MacKenzie Bailey and Michael Kuzmack are coached by Emma Lopez.
  • Great Parade Division Two — Coached by Gail Johnston and includes students Katelyn Johnston, Katrina Chapman, Jared Kennedy, Justin Boyd, Zach Oborn and Cody Jackson.

To learn more about Odyssey of the Mind, see the Web site odysseyofthemind.com.

The new problems for the 2006-2007 school year will be posted in June.  Home school and community groups as well as schools may enter teams in Odyssey of the Mind.