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Robinson students tackle Odyssey challenge

STARKSBORO-Two teams of students from Robinson Elementary School participated in this year's Odyssey of the Mind competition at Champlain Valley Union High School earlier this month.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international education program that encourages children to learn creative problem solving methods and rewards them for thinking "divergently". Students work in groups of up to seven per team, and choose from a menu of problems they must work to solve cooperatively.

The teams present the problem they have selected and the solution they have devised in an eight-minute skit at regional competitions. The two Robinson teams placed third and fifth for their projects. The third place winners chose a challenge "Food Court", wherein the team had to accuse and defend a claim about a food. In their skit, a rainbow trout (Caroline McArdle) was accused of causing bleeding eye disease. Her accuser was a carrot (Danielle Bachand) who claimed her uncle was consumed because eating carrots is the only cure for the disease.

The fifth place winners chose a challenge called Nature Trail'r, in which they were required to build a human powered vehicle, complete with camper in tow, which had to follow a nature trail where they would encounter wildlife, overcome a natural obstacle, break down and repair their vehicle and beautify the earth.

"It's a great program," said Amie Jennings, one of the parents involved in Nature Trail'r. "We had a great team. They enjoyed each other and had a good time together." Wendy McArdle, a parent volunteer from Food Court, agreed, saying she had been worried that they would all be "emotionally fried" by the end of the day, but that was not at all the case. "They were thrilled to come in third, and then we had a party and a sleep over afterward."

More information about Odyssey of the Mind can be found on their website Odysseyofthemind.com.

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