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Wakulla Schools Prepare for Odyssey of the Mind Competition



November 8, 2017


On November 4, over 100 Wakulla County public school students, coaches, and volunteers attended a day of practice at Riverprings Middle School for the annual Odyssey of the Mind  international competition.


The first round of competition is Regionals, which will take place on Saturday, March 3, 2018 in Crestview, Florida.  Regional qualifiers go on to State competition in Orlando on April 14.


State qualifiers go directly to World Finals on May 23-26, 2018.  This year they will be held at Iowa State University.


Participating Wakulla County public school teams include Crawfordville Elementary coached by Heather Hatfield and Kirsten Brazier; Riversink Elementary coached by Cassandra Burnham and Molly Jones; Shadeville Elementary coached by Kerry Adams; Riversprings Middle coached by Jessica Yarbrough and James Daniels; and Wakulla Middle coached by Katrina Roddenberry.


Medart Elementary is fielding a Primary team (Grades K-2) coached by Betsy Jones and Traya Terranova, and an Elementary team (Grades 3-5) coached by Melissa Jackman and Sandra Whaley.


Wakulla High School is fielding 3 teams, all coached by Sophina Andrade with input from some WHS science, math, and engineering teachers. 


Odyssey of the Mind is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1978 by Industrial Design professor Dr. Sam Micklus to encourage students to “think outside the box” in finding creative solutions to problems that may include technical, mechanical, communication, structural, and performance aspects.  In addition, teamwork is a key element to success.


Students work in teams all year to solve one of five published problems, and present their solution at a Regional competition. Student teams also have limited time to solve a “Spontaneous Problem”, one they have never seen before.


RMS hosted the teams so they could practice their spontaneous thinking skills. Students prepared by working on prior years’ spontaneous problems.


Returning RMS coaches Jessica Yarbrough and James Daniels joined former Odyssey coaches Medart Elementary Principal Stan Ward and Shadeville Elementary Principal Nicholas Weaver to organize and manage the practice day at RMS on November 4.


Each of the spontaneous problems was overseen by Wakulla’s Odyssey of the Mind coaches. The Emerald Coast Regional Director Shannon Flynn also assisted with the stations, as did volunteers from the community. 


Just seven years ago, Wakulla was introduced to Odyssey of the Mind by one coach fielding one team. Now all of the Wakulla public schools participate.


Last school year, 8 Wakulla teams advanced to State competition from the 11 teams that participated in Regionals. 


Wakulla High Team A coached by Nicholas Weaver was the first Wakulla team ever to qualify for World Finals. They competed with 833 teams from 33 U.S. states and 15 countries at Michigan State University in May 2017, having an “irreplaceable cultural and college experience,” according to Coach Weaver.


Says Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “Creative problem solving is a major skill we want our students to have plenty of practice with before they graduate. Participating in Odyssey of the Mind is one of many creative thinking opportunities offered in Wakulla County Schools.”