Holy Trinity teams finish first, fourth in Odyssey of the Mind competition


Members of Holy Trinity's Odyssey of the Mind teams finished first and fourth at the Brevard County competition and the winning team will advance to the state event this month. Pictured in the top row from left to right are Maya Vallejo, Kate Schwin, Giana Theodoropoulous, STEAM teacher Dipty Desai, Alina Zaidi and Violet Flores. Pictured in the bottom row from left to right are Declin Mageau, Lloyd Robinson, Elle Canlas, Donovan Boesch and Sebastian O'Brien.

photo by Carl Kotala

A group of Holy Trinity students recently took part in a competition that challenged them to not only make use of what they have learned in school, but to also use their creativity both in group and individual settings … and to have some fun in the process. 

They nailed it.

The Tigers took first and fourth place in Brevard County’s Odyssey of the Mind competition, which is open to third- and fourth-grade students. The first-place team moves on to the state competition, which will take place April 8 at the University of Central Florida.

 “Odyssey of the Mind is a world-wide competition that uses open-ended problems given to students to problem solve using their abilities and their creativity,” said Dipty Desai, a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) educator at Holy Trinity’s Lower Campus.

Holy Trinity’s winning team consisted of Declin Mageau, Lloyd Robinson, Elle Canlas, Donovan Boesch and Sebastian O'Brien. The fourth-place team was made up of Maya Vallejo, Kate Schwin, Giana Theodoropoulous, Alina Zaidi and Violet Flores.

There were two parts to the competition — a long-term project that began in October, and a spontaneous problem where teams had mere minutes to prepare. 

Scores from the long term and spontaneous problems were combined for the team score.

For the long-term project, the first-place team (coached by parent Duana Boyles) faced the challenge of “Catch Us If You Can.”

“We had to build three vehicles,” said Boesch, a fourth grader. “We built a parking garage. We had to come up with a story and a script to go along with the cars in the garage.”

The idea was to get the three vehicles to a secret meeting place while outmaneuvering a villain.

The group used a car, a plane and a train. Boesch had previously built a Pinewood Derby car, a folded up paper airplane with a balloon for propulsion and a train.

“It was complicated, but it was fun at the same time,” Boesch said. “I got to use tools that my parents wouldn’t let me use.”

For Vallejo’s team (coached by her mother, Sweta), the long-term challenge was to come up with a “Superhero Cliffhanger.”

“Basically, there’s a nemesis and the nemesis is trying to steal creativity,” Maya Vallejo said. “The super hero is trying to save it. There have to be three instances where the super hero stops the nemesis from stealing creativity and it has to end with a cliffhanger.”

In the case of both projects, there is a limited budget.

“We didn’t buy any materials,” Vallejo said. “Everything was either from home (but) most of it was from recyclable material. (My friend Kate and I) went dumpster diving. We made an easel for an artist studio scene and we made goatees for the artists.”

As for the spontaneous problem, Vallejo’s team was shown a picture of a dog in an astronaut suit. Without being able to collaborate, the students had to come up with an explanation for why the dog was wearing the suit.

Boesch’s team received a hands-on challenge. There were Tupperware containers with items such as a plush shark, golf balls, silverware, a Hess truck and building blocks. The items were assigned points, and they had to be stacked. Anything touching the floor earned zero points.

If that sounds like fun, well, it was.

“I enjoy Odyssey because you don’t just follow the rules — you think outside of the box,” Maya Vallejo said. “(You take what you learn in school and) you turn it into something amazing.”