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Their minds are bent on world domination

Published May 16, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - Imagine writing your own children's storybook and then making the characters come to life.

Fourth-graders at Northside Christian School did just that to prepare for the Odyssey of the Mind competition, an international educational program that encourages students from kindergarten to college to use creative problem-solving techniques.

"It's fun. You get to be with your friends, " said Grayson Samuels, 10.

"And you get to use your brain, " added teammate Anna Brickey, 10.

The students are going to the world finals of this year's Odyssey of the Mind competition at Michigan State University, where they'll compete against teams from other states, South Korea, Poland and Singapore.

The team qualified in its division after it won regionals in March and came in second at the state competition in April.

The students wrote a story, prepared a skit, made their own costumes and created small and large versions of a pop-up storybook to fulfill the requirements for the problem they selected, called "The Large and Small of It."

Teams are scored on how they execute the solution to their problem and how they solve a spontaneous problem that they won't see until they get to the competition.

An example? They could be asked to name things that would not happen tomorrow.

"Whatever happened today, " said Gabrielle Rudolph, 9.

"Giant ants attacking the world, " Anna said.

The exercises are student-led. "It's completely their own work. They get no outside assistance, " said Robin Samuels, who coaches the team with Kathy Hollis. Both women have kids on the team.

Students learn how to manage their time and stick to a budget. They also get public speaking experience. "You get used to not being nervous, " said Nicole Evans, 10.

School officials estimate the trip will cost about $16, 000. The kids have been hosting fundraisers and collecting donations. The school also chipped in money.

The students said they're looking forward to meeting kids from all over the world. "I'm excited, nervous and prepared, " Anna said.

Fast Facts:

Odyssey of the Mind

The 28th Odyssey of the Mind world finals will be May 23-26 at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. More than 800 teams from the United States and more than 25 countries will compete. For information, visit the Web site at www.odysseyofthemind. com/.

To donate to the kids' trip, call the school at 541-7593, or make checks payable to Northside Christian School, 7777 62nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg, with a note in the subject line for Odyssey of the Mind.

[Last modified May 16, 2007, 00:02:20]

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