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Kids learn creative thinking at Odyssey of the Mind event

March 08, 1997

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

Creativity - that's what Odyssey of the Mind is all about.

Students' ingenuity was on display Saturday, as teams from Washington County and beyond made robots, performed funny skits and built balsa wood structures strong enough to hold more than 100 pounds.

"We are basically trying to teach kids there is more than one answer to a problem. ...And OM does it in kind of a fun way," said Georgiana Keller, director of the Western Maryland Regional Odyssey of the Mind Tournament.

Forty-one teams from elementary, middle and high schools in Washington, Frederick, Allegany and Carroll counties competed in events as varied as "Can You Dig It?" where teams presented performances about archeology, and "Heroic Proportions," where the performances included characters with out-of-proportion physical features.

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"I like it because it's spontaneous. Anything can happen," said Daniel Yildirim, 10, a fifth-grader at Paramount Elementary who took part in "Heroic Proportions."

Students involved in Odyssey of the Mind said they enjoyed the teamwork.

"You get to share ideas with your friends," said Jessica Watters, 11, another fifth-grader at Paramount.

But the tournament - held at three city schools - involved more than just the 300 competitors. Pulling off an event of that size took scores of judges, organizers and team coaches.

"What I really enjoy about it is the creativity it fosters in the kids," said Dr. Meredith Williams, who coaches one of the Paramount teams.

Katie Brown, a seventh-grader at Gov. Thomas Johnson Middle School in Frederick, Md., said her mother has been her coach since the second grade. She said her father has been a tournament director.

"It's a family thing," she said.

Some of the parents who came to watch their children compete said Odyssey of the Mind gives kids skills that will help them long after they make their last balsa wood bridge.

"It's a chance for them to be able to creatively think," said Sally Poole of Boonsboro, who has a son on the Greenbrier Elementary team.

Saturday's winners will compete in the state competition on April 12 in Catonsville, Md. The world competition will be held at the University of Maryland in June.

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