An Odyssey from Stamford to Iowa
STAMFORD -- After proving themselves against the rest of the state in a competition that mashes up science, engineering and vaudeville, a group of Stamford students will head to Iowa later this month to compete against the world.
That is, if they can raise the money for it.
Odyssey of the Minds is an international competition that asks students to get creative in order to solve mechanical problems created by the organization. Stamford's Odyssey program is run through the Stamford Youth Foundation, a volunteer group that was formed to provide extracurricular activities the school board doesn't fund due to budget constraints. The kids don't all have to go to Stamford Public schools, and some had students from multiple schools on them.
This year's Odyssey program's successes has sent four teams scrambling to raise about $1,500 per person to get to Ames, Iowa, for the multi-day competition. This includes air and hotel. They're holding bake sales, sending out letters to businesses, family and friends and each has a web page on www.syfom.myevent.com, where people can help out.
They've already invested a lot of time to this point, according to Leslie Ilaw, SYF's Odyssey of the Minds program director, who was proud of the showing Stamford made in the state competition.
"We had four teams -- which is quite an accomplishment -- qualify for the World Finals," she said.
More InformationStamford's four Odyssey of the Minds teams that are raising funds to get to the national competition in Iowa this summer won the state-wide competition with their answers to the following questions:
Seeing is believing -- A community feels threatened by something in a location no one has ever visited and the team must let the town know if it really is dangerous. Taking on the parts of townspeople, the group creates a communication device, a moving set piece, and sends one of its members to the site to report on what it is. They must narrate the piece and provide two rhymes as part of the performance.
Winners -- Div II Gold medalist team: Turn of River Middle School and KING private school students Kevin Harrington, Jack Hicks, Benjamin Hu, Arushi Mathur, Christopher Matrullo, Julien Matrullo and Hannah Nektriz. Coach: Eric Matrullo Div. I Gold medalist team: Westover Magnet Elementary School students Kayla Craner, Neya Krishnan, Aiden Neigler, Luke Noonan, Jake Smith, Preston Smith, Brynn Spingola. Coaches: Jennifer Noonan, Victoria Zerjav
Driver's test -- Teams are asked to create a vehicle and driving test course based around a theme. The vehicle must be big enough for one student to drive it and it must use one propulsion system to go forward and a different one for reverse. The vehicle should also have a talking GPS.
Winners -- Div. I Gold medalist team: Stillmeadow students Devon Cavaliere, Ella Cognetti, Olivia Cognetti, Aryan Hassija, Braeden Rubin, Gavin Stops and Connor Tasik. Coach: Kristen Stops
The not so haunted house -- The team is to design a haunted house that features four special effects. The intent of the special effects will be to scare people, but they will produce a different result instead. Besides creating the pop-up haunted house, the group has to present an original performance that includes one of them going through the haunted house and another one narrating. There must be a surprise ending.
Winners -- Div. 1 Gold medalist team: Hart and Newfield schools: Alex Baja, James Dizon, Dominic Frangiose, Nicholas Frangiose, Anibal Loureda and Abigail Morse. Coach: Bob Morse
To help the teams raise money for their trip to Iowa, visit http://www.syfom.myevent.com/. (http://bit.ly/1iHpGLQ)
During the competition, teams are judged on their solutions to a problem they've picked to work on, and the eight-minute performance they develop around that solution. They are also judged on style and how they tackle a spontaneous problem thrown at them during the competition. The top two teams by problem and division from each state get to go to Iowa State University to compete in the world championship beginning May 28.
The teams of five-to-seven students from Stamford met over several months to develop solutions, build contraptions, create costumes and write scripts.
Stamford has a strong program overall, sending 11 teams to the statewide competition last month.
Some teams were coached by teachers, some by parents and the students could come from anywhere in the city.
And it wasn't just the kids who got something out of it.
"It was a great experience. The children learned so much -- us adults as well" said Christine Cognetti, whose daughter was on the team that competed in the driving test.