Students explore realm of learning based competitions

Students explore realm of learning based competitions

Maddie Seiler, Reporter

Four eager students arrived at the high school last Saturday brimming with excitement over the activities ahead. On March 11, Aidan Rauscher (freshman), Aurora Starr (freshman), Andrew Runyon (sophomore), and Samantha Schaefer (sophomore) along with trip leader, Sue Traylor headed to the Odyssey of the Mind competition at Millersville University.

Odyssey of the Mind is a competition for high school students to inspire “creative problem solving through a variety of options.” trip leader Traylor said.

Competition judge, Michael Ginter, added that projects could either be theatrical or technical; each group got to choose. “There’s a lot of freedom in what you can do. You can take it in a lot of different directions and really make [a project] your own.”

Ginter said he became a judge because he wanted to help out the program. He went on to explain that each team needs two judges, and because he participated in the competition himself in grades 7 through 12, it was something he wanted to do. Ginter has been a judge for the last 8 years of the competition.

Traylor said students attended the competition to get an idea of what it was and what it looked like. She explained that looking at the website, it seemed a little intimidating, but when she actually went to the competition, the atmosphere was “relaxed, comfortable, and fun.”

Rauscher said he went to the competition to “see what it was about” and if he would be interested in competing. Schaefer said she attended the competition because “it sounded like something fun to do” and that “it was something I might want to participate in next year.”

Rauscher’s favorite part of the competition was a project on the structure of balsa wood. Students had to make different structures to support certain amounts of weight and received points based on how well the structures held up.

Schaefer enjoyed “seeing how all the different groups solved the same problem in creative ways.”

Traylor said she would like to get students involved in the future.

Both Rauscher and Schaefer expressed interest in joining the competition next year. “I think it’s interesting; [there are] a lot of aspects that pertain to my interests,” Rauscher said. Schaefer added that she wants to do it next year because it “involves both acting and problem solving.”

“[The competition] gives students life skills they’ll take with them to the workforce and helps them determine where their strengths and weaknesses lie,” said Traylor. Traylor also said the competition enforced the 4 C’s (Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Communication) and that it focused on problem solving in a group setting.

Schaefer explained that attending the competition gave her a “clearer picture of what it’s all about.”

Rauscher said that in participating in the future, he hopes to gain a “sense of problem solving” as well as develop teamwork skills.

Although students didn’t compete in the Odyssey of the Mind competition this year, the trip was a success, sparking new interest in possibilities for years to come.