Big Brains, Big Dreams

CSD qualifies six teams for a statewide cognition competition.

The Colonial School District (CSD) qualified six teams for the Odyssey of the Mind state competition. The teams advanced based upon their performance at last weekend's OM regional competition.

This is the eighth year that CSD teams have competed in OM, which brings teams of seven students together, under the direction of volunteer parent coaches, to create solutions to challenging problems. The problem solutions are developed over a course of many months and are presented in skit form at regional, state, and world competitions. Problem categories include vehicle, technical, structure, classics and dramatic comedy as well as a spontaneous problem-solving component.

Coached by Ms. Maureen Convery, the fourth grade "Ooh...Motional Vehicle" team placed first overall and first in Spontaneous problem-solving. Team members include Harrison Runyen, Ali Eskandary, Dylan Moldovsky, Michael Petusky, Zane Reichley, Nate Sfida, and Thomas Shaw.

The "Ooh...Motional Vehicle" problem required teams to design, build, and drive a vehicle that traveled a course where it encountered three different situations. The vehicle had to display a different human emotion for each encounter, one of which caused it to travel in reverse. The team created a theme for the presentation that incorporates the vehicle and the different emotions. The emphasis was on the technical risk-taking and creativity of the vehicle's engineering for travel and change of emotional appearance.

Another fourth-grade team, coached by coached by Mrs. Michelle Kaufman and Mrs. Bonnie Wittenberg, participated in the "Odyssey Angels" problem and placed first overall, first in Long Term problem solving and first in Spontaneous problem solving. The team includes Jonah Kaufman, Max Wittenberg, Tara Al-Saleem, Sydney Borislow, Riley Farbstein, Rebecca Schindler, and Ben Yuter.

A sixth-grade team, competing in the same problem on their level, also placed first overall, first in Long Term problem solving and first in Spontaneous problem solving. That team, coached by Ms. Jennifer Gallagher and Ms. Lisa Schwenderman, includes Sarah Yuter, Meghan Ely, Ari Kaganovksy, Seamus Ronan, Julia Schwenderman, Aishwarya Ramesh, and Katherine Houghton.

A team of ninth graders placed third overall in the "Odyssey Angels" problem and just missed out on the state competition. Coached by Mr. Dave Smith, the squad includes Michael Krone, Diana Westerfer, Samantha Baker, Nathan Hyer, Ryan Silverthorn, Cooper Smith, and Coleen McFillin.

In the Odyssey Angels problem, the team created a performance where a group of students travel throughout one or more team-created places where they encounter negative situations. These "Odyssey Angels" change what they find and turn them into positive situations. On their journey, they help two individuals with different problems and help save an entire community from a bad situation. One Odyssey Angel cannot speak, and another has a special team-created power.

Two CSD teams competing in the "To Be or Not to Be" problem are also going to the state competition. Coached by Mrs. Liz and Ms. Ani Tornetta, fifth graders Gabriella Tornetta, Lauryn Richman, Kelly McFillin, Meaghan King, Michael Mann, Emily Huang, and fourth grader Justin Adler placed second overall and first in Spontaneous problem solving. The seventh-grade team of Mason Jones, Joshua Kurman, Raquel Dunoff, Angela Richter, Nathaniel Reichley, and Lizzie Stricklin also placed second overall and first in Spontaneous problem solving. That squad is coached by Ms. Lauren Dunoff.

In this Classics problem, teams put a comic spin on one of William Shakespeare's most famous lines. Hamlet, the title character, ponders this question and realizes that the easy way out is not always the correct choice. An original "Hamlet" character faces a team-created dilemma. Unlike Shakespeare's Hamlet, the team's character takes the easy way out only to discover that it was the wrong choice. Teams also incorporated a character that portrays Hamlet's conscience, a creative scene change, a creative costume change, and use of a "trap door." A portion of the performance included musical theatre elements.

A CSD fifth-grade team qualified for the state competition in the "Weird Science" problem. Coached by Mr. Corey Stricklin, team members include Siddhi Ameser, Zaina Fairey, Keegan Gallagher, Jackson Quitel, Namita Rao, Andrew Stricklin, and Matt Symnoski. Placed first overall and first in Spontaneous problem solving. The team created a performance about a group of scientists on an expedition to uncover the cause of mysterious events. The team selected the location of the expedition from NASA Earth Observatory Photographs. In the skit, the scientists collect two samples and report on their findings. The performance also included a technical representation of the mysterious events, the appearance of actually traveling, and a team-created device that the scientists use on the expedition.

A team of fourth graders, coached by Mr. Jack Cohen and Mrs. Michelle Lubas received a trophy for placing third overall and second in Spontaneous problem solving but did not make the cut for the state competition. That group included Ryan Cohen, Ben Lubas, Lenny Brenner, Skyla Ruck, Will Pludo, Emma Broggi, and Olivia Mattioni.

The OM state competition will be April 14 at Pocono Mountain East High School.


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