Viera Charter School wins Florida’s Odyssey of the Mind competition
Lynne Boucher, the Viera Charter School faculty sponsor for the Odyssey of the Mind team, poses with students Anna Brait, Haylee Johnson, Ryan Luciani, Stephanie Whiteman, Taylor Weiss and Kaelin Alvarado. Andersen Law is not pictured.
VIERA VOICE Linda Wiggins
Viera Charter School’s Odyssey of the Mind Team won the Florida competition April 14 at the University of Central Florida.
For the first time in the school’s five-year history, the VCS team will advance to the OM World Competition in Ames, Iowa. VCS was the only Brevard OM team that performed well enough to qualify for the World competition.
OM is the largest creative problem solving competition in the world and, according to its website, “develops skills in young people that help them thrive in our technical world.”
Other Viera/Suntree teams that performed well at the regional competition last month and went to state were Manatee and Williams Elementary and McNair Magnet Middle schools. Stevenson Elementary School on Merritt Island was the only other team from Brevard to place at the state level, with a fourth-place showing.
There were a total of 820 teams in regions across the state of Florida, 263 of those teams advanced to the State Tournament, and only 31 of those Florida teams will advance to World Finals. The VCS middle school team will be the only team to represent Brevard in the World Finals.
“Everybody had tears of joy in their eyes,” said VCS OM faculty sponsor Lynne Boucher, who is also the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) education director and Robotics director. VCS is a kindergarten-through-eighth grade, STEAM-focused, privately run school of choice that is funded by public education dollars, so there is no cost to attend.
“OM is such a fantastic program for schools to implement. It promotes STEAM education and character development,” Boucher said.
OM students must work as a team to address challenges and figure out creative ways to solve them. One of the most beneficial talents students develop from OM are the real-world leadership and project management skills that will help them today and in their future, Boucher added.
“Our students are in charge of planning, creating and then implementing everything as a team. The problem the team chose to solve is a technical-based problem, which means that they must engineer mechanical devices to perform specific functions and challenges. The team created robotically controlled Teleprompters and a device that produced text during their performance. These things were seamlessly placed into a highly artistic performance full of music and expressive acting.”
VCS principal Dr. Julie Cady said she is committed to finding the resources to send the team to Iowa.
“They worked so hard and did so well, it will be our pleasure to see that they make it to World’s, whatever it takes. We expected and hoped they would do well, but first place in the entire state? These students are amazing!”
The state competition and the awards ceremony that ran late into the night were “nerve racking,” said team member Kaelin Alvarado. “Of course it was also awesome and so much fun, and we are so appreciative of the win.”
Other middle school team members include Anna Brait, Haylee Johnson, Ryan Luciani, Stephanie Whiteman, Taylor Weiss and Andersen Law.
For more information or to donate toward or to sponsor the trip, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To arrange a tour of the school for fall attendance, call 321-541-1434.