Errick Road Elementary School students in Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District went on an odyssey recently, an Odyssey of the Mind, that is. They took second place in regional competition against 36 other student teams representing 10 local school districts at Medina High School.
Odyssey of the Mind is an annual international creative problem solving competition that requires student teams at several levels to solve specific problems and present their solutions to panels of judges. Seven fifth-graders from Errick Road, including Thomas Efthemis, Sara Johnson, Allison Kujawa, Kiersten Reina, Michelle Terbot, Nikita Verna and Callista Zayatz, worked on a problem called "Full Circle," which required the team to make an object that transformed three different ways and then returned to its original form. Then, students presented their solution as part of a performance that included a song, a dance and a surprise ending. Team coaches were Beatrice Singh-Arnone and Joshua Lee.
"You have to learn to compromise and make a decision that is best for the team," said Allison Kujawa. Thomas Efthemis added, "Each person has something that they are good at that makes the team better. We can learn from each other."
Other Niagara-Wheatfield teams that won included a team from Edward Town Middle School that took third place and a Niagara-Wheatfield High School team that placed second.
"The experience provides students with the opportunity to work on a team to solve a problem. It promotes problem solving, creative thinking, responsibility, persistence, commitment, decision making and cooperation," said Arnone. "Students learn to value individual team members for strengths and contributions to the team and determine solutions that will produce the best result for the team's final product and presentation."
"We have to be there for each other and do what you can to help the team," said team member Sara Johnson.