Odyssey of the Mind

Our HEM-Networking discussion group is where HEM readers and other interested people gather to talk about whatever’s on their minds. One post which captured my interest recently came from a mom in Texas, Susan Smylie, proudly describing the awesome achievements of her teenage son and his friends, who comprise a team for the Odyssey of the Mind competitions in problem solving, creative thinking, and team-work. Susan wrote:

“Yesterday they competed at the Texas State Finals where they placed second, earning them a trip to the World Finals at Michigan State University at the end of May. They also won a Renatra Fusca award, the highest honor given by Odyssey of the Mind, awarded for extreme creativity. We are all on cloud nine!”

Today Susan shared a press release with us, which I’d like to share with my readers:

San Antonio H.E.R.O., a homeschool organization, sent three teams of students to the Odyssey of the Mind State Tournament in Houston, Texas on March 31, 2007. Odyssey of the Mind is a team-work, problem-solving, creative-thinking program. Teams of students work together for months to solve a long-term problem and learn spontaneous problem-solving skills.

One of the SA-HERO Division III (high school) teams is thrilled to announce that it is advancing to the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals at Michigan State University from May 23-26. Over 800 teams from at least 35 countries are expected to compete. The team advanced both by placing second in its problem category and by winning the coveted Ranatra Fusca, the highest award given by Odyssey of the Mind, awarded to teams in recognition of extreme creativity. SA-HERO has been competing in Odyssey of the Mind tournaments for five years and this is the first team to advance to Worlds.

The team members chose a technical problem called “The Large and Small of It.” In addition to writing and performing a skit, the team also had to incorporate technology to create changes in their scenes, and they were required to have a character change, or appear to change, in size. The team accomplished the technical requirement with a motor that operated a system of pulleys. They also created and integrated a complicated Rube Goldberg machine that captured the attention of tournament competitors, judges, and spectators. The Ranatra Fusca Award was given in recognition of the complexity of the Rube Goldberg machine.

The team members who will be competing in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals are John Doyle (16), Juliana Hernandez (14), Hannah Kane (18), Katie Kuplack (14), Ellie Pavliska (14), and Galen Schmidt (14).

The team members are currently fundraising for their upcoming trip. They need to raise approximately $10,000 in about six weeks. We are appealing to the homeschooling community for help. If 1,000 people will give us $5 each, that will be half of our goal. We are experienced fundraisers and are working hard, but it is a daunting task to raise so much money in such a short time. If excess money is raised (one can hope:) it will be saved for next year’s SA-HERO Odyssey of the Mind program. Online donations can be made at this link for SA-HERO.

Donations can be mailed to:
12307 Hart Ranch
San Antonio,TX78249

Checks should be made out to SA-HERO, with “OotM Team” on the subject line (or a note saying it is for OotM Team.) If you would like a charitable donation letter (for your taxes), include a note stating such–be sure to include your return address. All contributions are tax deductible.

Thanks to all for your help and encouragement.

Susan Smylie

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