Seven students from Bull Run Elementary School in Centreville traveled to Boulder, CO, to represent the state of Virginia in the 23rd annual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals on May 22-26.
These fifth-grade students (ages 10-11) comprise Bull Run's Team B. This team won first place in Center Stage, Division 1 at the Northern Virginia Regional competition in March and placed first again at State Finals in April.
At World Finals the team competed against 49 teams from various states in the U.S. and foreign countries. The team placed 10th overall in its long-term solution and placed second in the spontaneous competition.
Odyssey of the Mind is a school-based creative problem-solving competition that challenges students in long-term and short-term problem solving. Teams are recognized for demonstrating cooperative teamwork, developing innovative solutions to problems, creative thinking, and outstanding presentation skills. Competitions take place at the regional, state, and international levels culminating in the annual four-day World Finals event.
Bull Run Elementary School Team B chose to solve the classics problem called "Center Stage." In this problem the team was required to present a prologue that introduces a classic work of literature, present an original play based on this work, and conclude with an epilogue that introduces a second work of classical literature.
The eight-minute play had to include two stage sets and a dance. The team's solution was based on Heracles on the Hydra for the prologue. The original play changed the idea of performing 12 labors to an ice cream worker who loses her job and must find three new flavors to get her job back. She travels to three places including Mount Tye where she gets snowball sundae ingredients, Octopus Ocean where she collects gold rock candy, and Gadzook's wizard castle where she wins magic exploding candy in a spell contest. The play includes a dance by the wizard, which is scored for creativity and originality. The play ends with Pandora's box where the moral of the three stories is that hope always makes bad things better. The students produced an innovative stage set that allowed them to display four scenes using a folding backdrop.
In Odyssey of the Mind, the team members must design and create all costumes, props, and backdrops, write the script and act out the play without any outside assistance. The play is then scored by a number of judges using scoring criteria that is given to the team members in advance to know how to focus on solving the problem. The play is also judged on style.
Team B has won at the Odyssey Regional competitions and competed at State Finals for the last three years. In addition, this year it placed first in its flight at Thomas Jefferson High School Spontaneous Invitational out of 15 teams and second place overall among 51 teams for Division 1.
Last year, Bull Run Elementary School Team A nominated them for an Omer Award for outstanding sportsmanship when they competed directly with each other at State Finals.