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Bayside students put their creative problem-solving skills to the test

Odyssey Pic2
Photo Anthony Giudice

Two Bayside schools are each sending two teams to the New York State Odyssey of the Mind Association State Tournament for a chance to advance to the world finals in Michigan later this year.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Students use their creativity to solve problems ranging from building mechanical devices to presenting their interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competitions on local, state and world levels. Thousands of teams from all around the U.S. and from 25 countries participate in the program.

The teams vying for a spot in the finals are the fourth- and fifth-grade teams from P.S. 203 Oakland Gardens and the sixth- and seventh-grade teams from Nathaniel Hawthorne M.S. 74. All four teams finished in either first or second place in their divisions during the Regional Tournament, which was held on March 7 in Wantagh, Long Island, to make it to the state level.

On Thursday, the students showed their creative problem-solving skills in front of faculty, family members and classmates in P.S. 203’s auditorium ahead of the state tournament.

The fourth- and seventh-grade teams took on the challenge of “Pandora’s Box,” where they had to put a “video game spin” on the Greek myth. Students were required to include a prologue that depicts the original story of Pandora’s Box; three characters that represent different evils that escaped the box; and a power meter representing the gamer’s health bar.

The fifth- and sixth-grade teams each chose the “Silent Movie” problem. In this scenario, the students had to create and present their very own silent film. There had to be a director character, a film critic and a humorous villain character that commits three silly acts of villainy. The characters in the film were not allowed to speak; instead, they used creatively displayed subtitles, much like classic silent movies.

Each team came up with their original idea, created the sets and costumes for the performance and put on the show all on their own, as per the rules of the competition.

“We are not allowed to help them at all, we just guide them,” said Katerina Stravropoulos, a teacher for the fifth-grade team at P.S. 203. “Through probing we get them to solve the problems.”

This year’s state tournament will be held on April 11 at Binghamton University.

“I’m very optimistic for my team,” Stravropoulos said of her team’s chances in the state tournament. “The competition is tough, but we will do our best.”

Jarett Glickman, a member of the M.S. 74 seventh-grade team, and former member of P.S. 203’s team that went to the World Finals in 2013, said, “The world finals was really fun. I hope we can make it again this year.”

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