AUBURN — Two student teams from Auburn will be headed to the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in Michigan next month.

A six-member team from Auburn Middle School and a five-member team from Edward Little High School have qualified for the competition at Michigan State University on May 19-23.

The competition “is as high as you can get,” said Auburn Middle School teacher and coach Jim Rowe.

Odyssey of the Mind is an educational program where students apply their creativity to solve problems, ranging from having to build mechanical devices to presentations of their own interpretation of literary classics.

The Auburn teams won regional and state contests.

They learn “leadership, public speaking, elements of engineering and design,” Rowe said. “They’ve designed everything, all from scratch.” 

To get to the finals, they have to raise $16,000 for room and board, travel and expenses.

“This doesn’t come out of the school budget,” Rowe said. “It’s all grassroots fundraising.”  

Starting April 11, students and supporters plan fundraising activities that include appeal letters, bottle drives, car washes, food sales and pancake breakfasts.

“We’re also looking to do ‘dine to donate’ at Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings,” said John Guy, Odyssey assistant coach at Edward Little. “We don’t have the dates yet. Individuals who want to donate can contact Rowe at [email protected].

Edward Little team members are Maureen Brann, Sabin Oliver, Evy Bilodeau, Kayla Fuller and Katelyn Breton; coaches are Guy and Sherwood Heights School teacher Stacey Bilodeau.

Middle school team members are Sophie Wood, Tessa Rubocki, Isabella Peinado, Carter Shaw, Sarah Charest and Jillian Foster. Coaches are Rowe and Deb Charest.

The middle school team’s entry is a silent movie. Students created an eight-minute skit, complete with props, script and a custom-made instrument to provide sound effects. The two-part skit replicates going to the movies to see a modern silent film, with a movie trailer shown before the film.

Students came up with a puppet show trailer of “Unhappily Ever After,” about puppet princesses whose princes have been stolen away. Students sing about the princesses in the tune from “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?” while another narrates in poetry.

The silent film is a parody of mean girls, where one student plays a popular, mean girl picking on another — then the mean girl becomes nice and the nice girl gets testy. Meanwhile, humorous movie critics, both human and puppets, critique the film.

“They pulled this stuff out of the air,” Rowe said.

The high school team’s problem is called “Run Away Train.” Students had to overcome five obstacles; build three self-powered trains; build tracks and props; and write a script and act it out, using students in costumes.

“This is all mass customized learning, team building, something we’re doing at the high school,” Guy said.

The scenario was of a western town where Bonnie and Clyde were accused of robbing gold from a train. The two were arrested, “but they didn’t steal it. The conductor stole the gold,” Guy said.

In the state competition, students received 337 points out of a maximum of 350, Guy said.

[email protected]


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