By APRIL WANG, sophomore
Eight months ago, students from JP Stevens embarked on a journey full of hard work, creativity, and competition. It was only after success at multiple qualifying competitions and a grueling twenty-four hour bus ride that they were able to arrive at Iowa State University and represent New Jersey in the 2016 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals from May 25 to May 28.
As a worldwide educational program, Odyssey of the Mind allows students from the age of 5 to 22 to solve a variety of problems, ranging from performance to engineering. Students develop creative problem-solving and team building skills through working together and competing at regional, state, and world levels.
The JP Stevens Odyssey of the Mind has continuously improved throughout the years, with students excelling in different problems. As Mr. Parekkadan, coordinator of JP Stevens Odyssey of the Mind states, “When I first started JP OM, it was really focused on Problem Four, the structure problem. At this stage in the game, I feel as though I have teams in respective to whether it is a structure problem or not that are very diverse in terms of their skills and talents, their dramatic quality of performance elements. I am dealing with very sophisticated students who bring a lot to the table no matter which problem.”
The opening ceremony began on May 25 with thousands of flashing glow sticks waving around, laser lights beaming from one end of the stadium to the other, and fire sparklers lighting up at the center of the arena. Introductions of each problem were given, short motivational speeches from the head judges and co-founders of Odyssey of the Mind were presented, and the competition and fun had officially begun.
The seven teams from JP Stevens competed in four different events or “long-term problems,” each having different tasks required to be completed. Problem one, “No-Cycle Recycle” required teams to build a vehicle and transport recycled items to different areas throughout their performance. Problem two, “Something Fishy” required teams to simulate different styles of fishing through a technical solution. Problem four, “Stack Attack” challenged teams to build a 15-gram balsa structure and test it to see the maximum amount it could hold. Problem five, “Furs, Fins, Feathers & Friends” called for teams to present a humorous performance involving three animal characters singing and dancing. The scores obtained from these long-term problems were then combined with scores earned from the spontaneous portion of the competition, where teams were required to solve a verbal or hands-on problem presented to them on the spot. The total score contributed to the team’s ranking among others in each competition.
On May 28, all teams gathered together once again for the closing ceremony to hear the highly anticipated results. All JP Stevens teams placed in the top twenty. Team B of Problem One received eighteenth place, team A of Problem Two twentieth place, team B of Problem Two tenth place, team A of Problem Four second place, team B of Problem Four fifth place, team C of Problem Four eleventh place, and team A of Problem Five twelfth place. With World Finals almost over, teams headed to the after parties, making their last memories before returning. As senior and executive board member Yixin Jiao explains, “My last World Finals was exceptionally memorable. OM has really changed my time in high school; it has brought me closer to other people and has helped me to develop problem-solving skills while having fun.”
Image Source: http://www.coloradoodyssey.org/preparing-for-tournament/world-finals/