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The Williamsport Area Middle School team with their third place trophy, left to right: Sydney Kelley, Lizzie Ryder, Olivia Ciabattari, Ben Manetta, Mia Clark, Lisa Lewis

This past weekend might have been busy with picnics and parades for some, but for students from the Williamsport Area and Loyalsock School Districts, it was a busy weekend of competitive, creative problem solving.

The 40th Annual World Odyssey of the Mind (OM) championships were held May 22-May 25, 2019 in East Lansing, MI, bringing over 20,000 students, teachers, parents and volunteers to the competition.

Odyssey of the Mind teams work throughout the year solving problems and are judged in a series of rigorous state and national competitions leading up to the world competition. Teams come to OM Worlds from throughout the United States and from 14 other countries including Canada, China, South Korea, India, Japan, Russia, Poland, Germany, Singapore, Slovakia, Switzerland, Italy, Mexico, and more.

Williamsport Middle School finished in 3rd place solving the problem “Classics...Leonardo’s Workshop.” In this problem, students had to portray Leonardo DaVinci’s (LDV) workplace in an original, creative performance. Students recreated a DaVinci painting, made a three-dimensional representation of one of his works, and developed an original “debunked” creation--a fake invention--that he abandoned because it was mocked.

“Coaching the Williamsport Area Middle School team alongside Liz Manetta has been an honor and a wonderful experience,” said coach Beth Lewis. “Hearing Williamsport announced validated what I’ve know all along, that these are some of the best kids in the world. They work hard, support each other, and have a chemistry like no other team.”

Cochran Primary School, Division I, finished in 12th, solving “Opposites Distract.” This problem highlighted how disagreements can distract groups from seeing the bigger picture.

Teams created and presented a humorous performance about a sneaky character that distracts others while tried to take control of some situation. The performance had to successfully lure others into silly arguments on two separate occasions. In the end, the groups had to catch the sneaky character before it took control.

Loyalsock Middle School also finished 12th with “Opposites Distract” in Division II.

Loyalsock High School finished 20th overall, solving “Hide in Plain Sight.” In this problem, teams designed and built a team-made mechanical creature that had to change its appearance three times, different each time, to avoid being detected by the “Searcher Character” trying to find it. The creature had to get into or out of various situations and finally reveal its true self.

Odyssey of the Mind is an educational, creative problem-solving program that encourages kids to do all the work on their own with no outside assistance from anyone, coaches included. They use their skills, talents, and knowledge to come up with unique solution to problems they are given.

 “[The Williamsport Middle School] team has competed against thousands of kids between regional, states, and worlds to place 3rd in the world 1st in the country with a team from Singapore and Poland taking second and first,” said Lewis of the magnitude of this accomplishment. “These kids just competed in a competition that had all other states, Singapore, Poland, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, South Korea, Russia, Japan, India, Canada, Germany and many other countries. I can’t really express in words how proud I am of these kids placing 3rd in the world!”

Lewis also commended the “wonderful team from the Williamsport district, Cochran Primary,” a young group of third graders, coached by April Frank and Melanie Vail, who “dazzled the world stage.”

According to OdysseyOfTheMind.com, “Long-Term Problems are the engine that propels Odyssey of the Mind. Teams select their problem when they join the program and spend weeks or months to create and develop their solution. Each team member finds a role to play in the many stages of problem-solving including brainstorming, artwork, set design, technical design, writing sketches, and much more.

All teams have an 8-minute time limit to present their performance.