Twenty-eight students from St. Andrew’s School in Romeoville qualified for the Odyssey of the Mind World Championships with their performance at the Illinois State Competition March 21 at Prairie Grove School in Crystal Lake.
Competing against 28 teams of students from 10 elementary schools, one high school and one library from around the state, two teams from St. Andrew’s earned first place honors and the other two teams finished second. First and second place teams at the state level advance to the world championships, which will be held in May at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.
The sponsoring teacher, Jennifer Jolly, said, “I am extremely proud and excited for the entire Odyssey of the Mind team that is advancing to World competition. It’s very rewarding to see the kids grow together; they feed off of each others’ strengths. They have overcome obstacles throughout the process and have learned how to solve these problems without having to ask for outside assistance.”
She added that other coaches and officials commented on how poised and polite the students were.
“What I like most about this program is that aligns with the Common Core for math and language arts, but also supports STEM, which is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math,” Jolly said. “It allows the students to think outside the box when applying their knowledge and pursuing new endeavors into each curriculum area, which takes learning to a whole new level when they are activity creating. Not only does Odyssey of the Mind meet the academic standards, but also strengthens their interpersonal skills that many students who are graduating from high school and college are lacking. ”
Each team took part in a spontaneous problem that needed creative problem solving and could be solved in 10-30 minute sessions that focused on verbal skills, and/or mechanical skills that tests how a team thinks on its feet. The long-term problem was the second part of the competition, and the problem could be in one of five categories. St. Andrew’s School took part in four of the categories.
The Driver’s Test Team was a mechanical or vehicular problem. This team took 2nd place and included 8th graders Joseph Cordero, Bolingbrook; Carolina Mata, Crest Hill; Ryan Rubino and Brennan Havemann of Romeoville; and Kent Diola, Joliet; as well as 7th graders Matthew Reyna, and Missy Vercillo of Romeoville.
The Not-So-Haunted House Team also took 2nd place and required the team to select a classic and put a twist to it; in this case “The Wizard of Oz.” This team included 8th graders Nancy Rivera, Onome Takpor, and Kaylyn Jakubczak, all of Romeoville, and 7th graders Brianna Balsavich, Bolingbrook; Mackenzie Hogan, Kelsey Seo, and Natalie Villalobos of Romeoville.
It’s How We Rule is a performance-based problem that revolves around a past court and morphs into a future court with similar decrees that change lives. This team took 1st place and included Kevin Mata of Crest Hill, Chelsea Hizon and Sabrina Serna of Romeoville, as well as 7th graders Alyssa Justalero, Alissa Araneta, Darrel Herrera, and Antoine Palmer of Romeoville.
The Stackable Structure allows teams to build a structure using only balsa wood and glue and test the strength of the structure by placing as much weight as possible. A skit usually accompanies it. This team placed 1st and their structure held 120 pounds. The participants in this team included 8th graders Ian Varquez, Jacob Strader, Julius Quilarto, Dominick Marfoe, Robert Du, John De La Cruz and 7th grader Kenneth Baron, all of Romeoville.
Led by Jennifer Jolly, science teacher, other coaches included Kelly Kramerich, 7th and 8th grade language arts teacher; Emily McGann, middle school math teacher; and Ian Molitor, music teacher.
Odyssey of the Mind, which began in 1978, helped pioneer the idea of creative problem solving as an educational tool. Many educators use the program to bring creative problem solving into their regular curricula or to enhance learning in extra-curricular programs.
In order to take part in the World Competition, St. Andrew’s students will have to raise $20,000 to cover the entry fee, the cost of room and board, and travel to Iowa State University. Failure to raise the needed money will prevent the teams from participating in this unique opportunity to not only compete against but to meet students from all over the world.
Judges from St. Andrew included Mary Jolly, Jennifer Field, Mary Anne Chmelik and Kathy Lifka, principal.
St. Andrew was the only school from the Joliet Diocese and Will County to take part.