The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 12, 1999


Creativity soars at Odyssey of the Mind tournament

They landed Shakespeare on the moon, sold a rat with fleas, created a tropical habitat for pandas and sang songs about teamwork. These were some of the original solutions presented by 37 Carlisle students at the Odyssey of the Mind regional competition in Littleton on March 6. Carlisle sent six teams to the tournament, including for the first time, two teams in the primary division for grades K-2.

Odyssey of the Mind is an extracurricular activity open to all students. Interested children are divided into grade-level teams in the fall. Each team then chooses a problem from a list used internationally. Solutions to the problem must include a creative element, a technical element and a formal presentation. Each team is coached, but, in the words of third-fourth grade coach Chris DeBruzzi, "The coaches are strictly question askers who make sure the children have access to supplies. All of the ideas and work come from the teams." Indeed, team members take an oath not to use any idea supplied by anybody else.

The seventh-grade team, made up of Christina Daugherty, Stephanie Ivanov, Megan Lyons, Clare Nosowitz, Elizabeth Popolo and Sam Rolley, and coached by Rob and Nancy Lyons, walked away with high honors. The team won first place in its division and will be competing in the state competition in Bedford on April 10. The team also won the Ranatra Fusca medal for outstanding creativity of its technical solution. The team devised four new habitats for an endangered earth species (panda bears) and came up with a discriminating device to test the suitability of the new habitats. Team member Megan Lyons was guarding the secrets of the discriminating device which won the Ranatra because the team is still in competition.

Alina Blum, Teresa Barton, Marie Benkley, Jason Forte, Bruce Hamlin and Ariel Morrison, coached by Rick Blum and Carl Benkley, were the fifth-grade team. This team needed to present a skit involving a memorable product (a rat), a memorable customer (a lonely, life-size doll), a customer service problem (the rat had fleas) and a solution to the problem (a sword-wielding knight store clerk). The fifth-grade team placed second in the spontaneous portion of the competition, which judges speed, creativity and teamwork.

The third-fourth grade team—Clark Bakewell, Amy Caruso, Oliver Cragen, Lisa DeBruzzi and Lauren Lamere coached by Chris DeBruzzi and John Bakewell, built a balsa wood structure which was rated on efficiency based on a ratio of the weight of the structure to the weight the structure could hold. The team also built a creative balsa structure, which coach DeBruzzi described as a unique base with a houselike structure, and incorporated the structure into a skit which included an original song about working as a team. The team won a third-place ribbon in a field of nine teams from the greater Boston area.

Patrick Brennan, Jason Drinkwater, Dan Fidler, Rushi Ganmukhi, Meredith Popolo, Maia Reed, Priyanka Singhal, coached by Don Drinkwater and Abha Singhal, comprised the fourth-grade team. This team presented a performance which set the last scene from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in the context of the first lunar landing. Coach Drinkwater, who was new to the program this year, found the experience of coaching both enlightening and frustrating. "They start with nothing and end with something," he said.

Also of particular interest was Carlisle's first entry into the primary division for children in grades K-2. There were two teams this year. Ian Bloomfield, Eric DeBruzzi, Georgia Guttadauro, Alex Japko, Alexander Sayde and Nikita Singhal were coached by Nicole Bloomfield and Liz Spatola as Team A. Adeline Bakewell, Robert Drinkwater, David Rayson, Evan Scalett, Rebecca Shenton, Tyler Struss and Ryan Symonds were coached by Jim Rayson and Sue Struss as Team B. The primary problem was noncompetitive. Both teams presented a performance that demonstrated the value of wise budgeting to prepare for the future.

Concord-Carlisle High School also sent a team to the regionals and came back with first prize for, coincidentally, setting the same scene from Shakespeare around the same historic event as Carlisle's fourth-grade team had done. There were no students from Carlisle on the high school team this year.

Thanks to co-coordinator Nancy Lyons for providing information for this article.

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito