Summit Students Named OM World Champions

Ames, I.A. – Seven Summit Middle School students made state history on May 26 when they were crowned the Odyssey of the Mind World Champions, beating 70 other teams from 13 countries and 26 states for the title.

Sixth graders Jack Coen, Jack Gabby, Kennedy Kramersmeier, Drew MacGregor, Will Safris, Caroline Throener, and Lauren Wessling are the proud team members. They practice at their coaches’ home in Johnston, averaging about 4 hours per week after school and on weekends. The team is coached by Kate and Steve Safris.

Photo of the Summit Odyessey of the Mind team.

Meet the Odyssey of the Mind World Champions! Team members are: Jack Coen, Jack Gabby, Kennedy Kramersmeier, Drew MacGregor, Will Safris, Caroline Throener and Lauren Wessling. The team is coached by Kate and Steve Safris.

More than 20,000 students and supporters from around the world traveled to Iowa for the 39th annual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals May 23-26 at Iowa State University. Students from different cultures and widely varying economic backgrounds proved that creativity is universal by coming together for this event. They demonstrated their creative solution to an Odyssey of the Mind problem while appreciating the creativity of others.

Among the many teams who competed, five were from Johnston schools. The teams have worked throughout the school year solving an OotM problem and were judged as the most creative in a series of rigorous state and national competitions. At ISU, the teams represented their state and country in hopes to prove that they are the world’s most creative problem-solvers. Odyssey of the Mind had teams competing from throughout the United States and in 13 other countries including Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland.

Although this is a competition to become a world champion, kids formed life-long friendships with their teammates and opponents. These friendships span the globe! Through Odyssey, they learn to communicate and appreciate different cultures. The Odyssey of the Mind “family” is made up of many different cultures, personalities, and ages. There were 837 teams participating that were considered the best of the best.

They came with interesting costumes, original stage designs, and innovative inventions — all part of solving an Odyssey problem. These problems are judged on creativity and risk-taking. The students learned to apply their creativity to problem solving. Teams also learned how to manage time and money, how to share ideas and negotiate with one another, and to perform in front of an audience. Because the problems provide for divergent solutions students incorporate their knowledge and interests into their solutions such as math, history, art, music, science, acrobatics, athletics, robotics, and anything else a child can imagine and enjoy.

This year’s choice of problems included:

  • Triathlon Travels: Teams will ride on and drive original vehicles in an Odyssey-style triathlon. They will try to score in “curling,” hit the right targets when “jousting,” and “run track” by navigating a course in two directions. Between these events, the team will entertain the audience and the vehicle will change appearance.
  • Emoji, Speak for Yourself: Three-dimensional emojis will be used to communicate the life story of a once famous, but now forgotten, emoji. Teams will create a performance where the emojis demonstrate special functions like growing, turning into a team member, and changing into a different emoji. Performances will also include a choreographed dance, a technical representation of texting, and sounds to enhance the performance. The twist? No spoken language is allowed.
  • Classics…Mockumentary! Seriously? There are often two sides to the same story. In this problem, characters don’t always agree as they recount the classic story where they appeared. The team will select a classic from a list and present different characters in a humorous documentary-style performance where details are added, denied, exaggerated, and disputed. There will be interviews, behind-the-scenes “clips,” and voice-overs that take the audience through the story and help present the events as they “really” took place. Whose side will you be on?
  • Animal House: Eighteen grams of balsa wood and glue are designed into structures that have been known to hold thousands of pounds. This year, teams will turn their balsa wood structures into animals! Since animals need to eat, they must be fed. The structure will have its appearance transformed and explained during an original performance. During the performance, the structure must hold the team-created food while it supports weights.
  • 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. Teams will create a humorous performance centered on this science fiction hangout that includes original creatures, foods, and a search for space treasure. There will also be a worker character, entertainment, and a futuristic map at the hangout.

There were also many other events at World Finals, such as the Creativity Festival. Booths from each Odyssey state or country challenged attendees with creative games. NASA had a booth at the festival handing out informational materials. The competition concluded with an Awards Ceremony, where over 18,000 people gathered to see the World Champions of Creativity announced.

Like most kids, Odyssey of the Mind team members exceeded expectations when given the opportunity to express themselves. OotM Found Dr. Sam Micklus says, “Odyssey of the Mind students have the best minds in the world.”

Watch a story on the team here: