Odyssey kids reach for the stars

By Bev Britton on April 2, 2018

Odyssey of Mind for websiteMt. Diablo Elementary School students gave a stellar performance, going to outer space (and Riverside) in this spring’s Odyssey of the Mind competition.

The team placed first at the regional event, earning them the trip to UC Riverside on March 24. Team coach Renee Culp called the competition “fierce,” yet the Mt. Diablo kids ended up fifth in the state out of 40 teams.

Odyssey of the Mind (OM) is an after-school enrichment program run by parent volunteers. Team members work together at length to solve a predefined long-term problem and present their solution at a competition. During a spontaneous portion of the event, students must generate solutions to a new problem.

“The long-term problem solution often takes many months to complete and involves various elements of theatrical performance, construction and design,” Culp says.

With Culp and co-coach Kelly McDougall, Team Awesome Sauce has made it to the state competition three years in a row. This year’s long-term problem was Stellar Hangout.

“In the outreaches of the universe, there is an Intergalactic Hangout where all sorts of creatures from different worlds stop, eat, refuel and relax,” Culp says. “Teams create a humorous performance centered on this science fiction hangout that includes original creatures, foods and a search for space treasure.”

Teams are allowed to spend $125 on the eight-minute performance. Culp says Awesome Sauce used household and recycled items for almost all costumes, props and backdrops.

“The only heart-stopping moment was when the backdrop fell apart trying to transport it to the performance,” Culp recalls. “The kids kept their cool and quickly put it back together just in time to perform for the judges.”

OM was created in 1977, and there are currently several teams from Mt. Diablo Elementary as well as Diablo View Middle School.

“Luckily, the Parent Faculty Clubs of the schools help pay for the membership fees and tournament fees,” Culp says. “This enables us to have more kids involved in the Odyssey of the Mind program.”

For more information, visit sfbayodysseyofthemind.org.

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