• June 1, 2018

    Two USC teams reach top 10 at OM World Finals

    World Finals competition Two Upper St. Clair teams placed among the top 10 in their divisions at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, held May 23-26, 2018, at Iowa State University. Nearly 850 teams from as far as Mexico, Poland, Singapore and China competed in the international competition.

    In their fourth trip to the OM World Finals, Upper St. Clair High School students earned third place for their performance and seventh place overall. Their team, which competed in the division three (high school) level for the first time, includes ninth graders Victoria Cuba, Brianna Lin, Joseph Markovitz, Max Murtough, Sammie Seewald, Constantine Tripodes and Eric Wang.

    A team of Boyce Middle School students earned a ninth place finish in division one (elementary). The team is comprised of fifth graders Jake Casares, Anastasia Gzikowski, Esha Lathia, Owen Mucho, Ben Murtough and Ben Seewald, and fourth grader Peter Markovitz. This marked the team’s first time competing in the OM World Finals.

    Both teams – coached by Meridith Markovitz, Laura Murtough and Stacey Seewald – advanced to the World Finals by placing among the top two at both the regional and state tournaments in the spring.

    “The teams’ journeys were the result of eight months of hard work and collaboration to solve an open-ended problem and create an eight-minute performance with no assistance from coaches, teachers, family or friends,” Mrs. Murtough said.

    The Boyce Middle School team solved the technical problem, “Emoji, Speak for Yourself.” In its solution, the team was required to tell the story of an original emoji that was once famous but had been forgotten. To help tell the story, students built and used three-dimensional emojis that demonstrated special functions. A turtle emoji grew as it came out of its shell, a surprised emoji turned into a team member as its hands travelled through her brain, and a happy emoji turned sad when rotated 180 degrees.

    “The most challenging part of this problem was the added twist of no spoken words,” noted Mrs. Seewald. “It forced the team to come up with other methods of communication to tell their story such as sounds, music and action.”

    The Upper St. Clair High School team solved the classics problem “Mockumentary! Seriously?” In their solution, they were required to create a humorous mockumentary of a well-known novel, presenting two classic characters who disagree on an element of the story in which they appear. Through interviews, behind-the scenes interaction and voiceovers, they present the events as they “really” took place. In the team’s unique interpretation of Peter Pan, Neverland was a NASA experiment created to test the effects of anti-gravity sending humans to Mars. Peter debates the truth with Tinkerbell, a NASA scientist posing as a fairy. But it’s Captain Hook’s shadow that sets the record straight.

    “This team’s strength is clever and entertaining storytelling,” said Mrs. Murtough. “But this year, they added an engineering element by creating a complex pulley mechanism to make Peter Pan actually fly!”

    Odyssey of the Mind is an international STEAM program that teaches kids how to tap in to their creativity so it can be applied to real-world problems. In the program, students solve one of five long-term problems. They bring their solutions to competition on the local, state and world levels where they are judged on creativity and risk-taking.

    At an Odyssey competition, teams are scored in three areas: a long-term problem (resulting in an 8-minute performance), style (elements that enhance a solution) and a spontaneous problem (solved on-the spot with no prior knowledge of the problem).

    Looking for a creative outlet for your kids this summer? Come to Ingenuity Camp sponsored by USC Odyssey of the Mind. This fun camp for rising first through seventh graders is held June 25-29 at Fort Couch Middle School. Visit www.uscootm.com to register.