ACPS Students Will Make History at Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

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For the first time in history, Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) will be represented at the Odyssey of the Mind (OM) World Finals.

George Washington Middle School Team
Savannah Anderson, Cooper Bosland, Zach Bosland, Ethan Gotsch, Cassie Gortner, Ava Moultrhop, Cade Stinson
MacArthur Elementary School
Henry Anderson, Keira Bosland, Tate Fagan, Miriam Gortner, Anna Moulthrop. (Not pictured: Walker Kopp)

Two ACPS teams—a team of fifth graders from Douglas MacArthur Elementary and a team of seventh graders from George Washington Middle School (GWMS)—competed at the state championship in Aldie, VA on April 1, and advanced to the World Finals at Michigan State University, May 24-27. The Alexandria community can support the ACPS teams by helping with funding for travel and registration. Click here for more information. Founded in 1978, Odyssey of the Mind is an international competition that challenges teams to go beyond conventional thinking and engage in creative problem-solving.

Team members spend months working together to apply their creativity, knowledge, and talents to solve problems that range from designing and building vehicles to presenting their own interpretation of classic artwork, to scripting comedic performances that involve complex costume and scene changes. One of the hallmarks of the OM program is that team members must take on all aspects of the project without any outside assistance from parents, teachers, coaches, or other students. Teams that advance at the regional and state level head to the World Finals where approximately 825 teams, including teams from more than 20 countries outside the United States, compete.

Both ACPS teams, which include four sets of siblings, tackled the “To Be Continued: A Superhero Cliffhanger” longterm problem this year. This problem required teams to create and present a humorous performance about an unexpected superhero who must save creativity. The performance also had to include a clumsy sidekick, a nemesis, a choreographed battle, and a cliffhanger ending—all in under eight minutes. In addition to the long-term problem, teams also must attempt a spontaneous problem at each level of the competition.

World Finals at Michigan State University, May 24-27.

“We formed an Odyssey team in 2011 when our kids were in second grade at MacArthur,” said Patrice Gotsch, who co-coaches the GWMS seventh grade team with Julie Bosland. “In the last six years, this team has advanced to the state level four times, but this is this first time they’ve made it to the World Finals. The kids put a ton of time and effort into Odyssey, working together on weekends and after school to bring their ideas to life. They’ve formed a strong bond as a team, and over the years they’ve learned new ways to collaborate and work toward a common goal. ”

The MacArthur team has been participating in OM since 2013. “This is the first time our team made it to the state competition, so we were blown away when we found out that we placed first in our division,” said Eve Anderson, coach of the fifth grade team. “It’s amazing to see how kids are able to think outside the box when given the opportunity. OM teaches them how to look at problems from different angles, and they learn that there are many ways to solve a given problem.”

ACPS team members include: Henry Anderson, Keira Bosland, Tate Fagan, Miriam Gortner, Walker Kopp, and Anna Moulthrop on the MacArthur fifth grade team; and Savannah Anderson, Cooper Bosland, Zach Bosland, Cassie Gortner, Ethan Gotsch, Ava Moulthrop, and Cade Stinson on the GWMS seventh grade team.

For more information about Odyssey of the Mind, visit their website at http://odysseyofthemind.com.