Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college.
Kids apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and World level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.
JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston Area Schools is breaking its own records by having four teams qualify for Odyssey of the Mind’s (OM) World Finals competition next month at Michigan State University.
The May 22-25 competition showcases a variety of skills from students that range from improvisation, preparation, problem-solving and creativity.
According to an email from Kim Samkowiak, J-L OM coordinator, this is the highest number of teams J-L has ever qualified for the World Finals, as four teams placed in the top two at the OM state tournament in Middleville March 16.
Samkowiak said it is also the first year the district plans to send K-5 students.
But to get to the competition, the school district first needs to raise enough funds to pay for lodging, transportation and other expenses for the teams.
Katy Xenakis-Makowski, J-L superintendent, said in an email that four out of J-L’s nine teams that qualified for the state OM competition earlier this year earned the opportunity to compete in the worlds.
“It is amazing to see some of the hard work and dedication of so many pay off,” Xenakis-Makowski said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for these kids to spend time on a college campus, compete, and interact with teams from around the world.”
She said the district typically anticipates the competition to total about $7,000 per team. With four teams that qualified this year, J-L expects costs to exceed $28,000.
The teams and their challenges
Two teams are set to compete in the worlds’ Hide in Plain Sight technical challenge.
“Their long-term problem challenged them to build a mechanical creature that could hide in plain sight,” reads part of the news release description of the challenge.
One team includes Jaeden Briley, Holly Elam, Racheal Pewinski, Bryton Sumampow, Emma Woosley and Skylar Wurtsmith. The students are coached by Amber Stahl and Dan Sumampow.
The second team in this challenge includes Carlee Campbell, Natalie Collins, Ian Helzer, Faith Pickelmann and Cameron Thomas. Merisa Campbell, Nikki Neuenfelt and Tammy Pickelmann coach the team.
The third team competing, known as the OMER to the Rescue Again team, includes Donovan Burke, Alex Kahl, Tesa Kimball, Trenton North, Hannah Pewinski, Kalli Speerstra and Shelby Parker. Rocky Kimball and George Pewinski coach that team.
This team builds an “OMER mobile” that could be assembled and disassembled during their performance as it travels to different places.
The fourth team competes in a structure toss event.
“The team will build a balsa wood structure designed to hold as much weight as possible,” reads the J-L news release. “Before adding weights, the team must toss their structure risking damage.”
The structure team includes Karen Baragrey, Johnny Baragrey, Reece Baragrey, Ryleigh Baragrey, Kimberly Crow, Kaylie Kassuba and Kaylee Markby. Sally Nowak coaches this team.
“The lessons learned through this program will impact the rest of their lives,” Nowak said in the release. “It’s not about where they land, it’s about the journey and lessons they learn along the way.”
All four J-L teams also have signed up to mentor an international team at World Finals.
Last year, the world competition was held at Iowa State University.
Johannesburg-Lewiston Area Schools hosted Odyssey of the Mind Competition February 23rd, 2019.
Odyssey of the MIND 2018
J-L Odyssey of the Mind team headed to World Finals
An Odyssey of the Mind (OM) team of eighth-grade Johannesburg-Lewiston Middle School students advanced to the OM World Finals after tying for second at the state tournament in Traverse City in March.
Alyssa Bartle, Hannah Collins, RaeAnn Kievit, Madison May, Morgan Paton and Destiny Sherbonda, all from Lewiston, will compete May 27-31 in Ames, Iowa. More than 800 teams from 35 countries are expected to converge on the campus of Iowa State University.
Making it to Worlds is a dream the girls have shared since they began competing together as second-graders. Some of them started with OM as kindergartners.
“This has been the goal we’ve set every year, and we’ve come close before, missing once by only three points,” said Cindy Bagnasco, who, along with Cyndie Kievit, has coached the team those six years.
Johannesburg-Lewiston Area Schools last sent a team to Worlds in 2006.
“OM teaches students to learn creative problem-solving methods while having fun,” according to the OM website.
The OM competition has two phases: long-term problem solving and spontaneous.
The J-L team’s “Seeing is Believing” Division II long-term problem challenged them to write and perform an original skit that involved a traveler going from a community that felt threatened into another community and sending a message back to the first community. The performance required writing two rhymes or songs and incorporating a moving set piece, Bagnasco said.
Spontaneous performance is just that — the team is presented a problem it knows nothing about and must solve it. Judges’ scores are based on teamwork, creativity and several other elements. Bagnasco said the J-L team focused on improving in that arena this year and made great strides with help from Kim Samkowiak, an experienced coach and the OM coordinator for J-L.
Going to Worlds will give the girls an opportunity to learn about other cultures and build lifelong friendships with other teams, said Bagnasco. The team already has applied to mentor a team from a foreign country for the week.
Along with the opportunities and honor of representing Michigan comes the challenge of raising money to fund the trip.
“We have to raise $6,000 in one month” to cover on-campus room and board for the team members and coaches, and to provide OM pins for the girls to trade, Bagnasco said. Like at the Olympics, trading and collecting pins is a major activity.
A prime rib dinner fundraiser is planned beginning at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 4, at Paul’s Pub, 10757 M-32 East, Johannesburg, with proceeds going to the team. Tickets will be offered in advance from team members, coaches and Paul’s Pub.
Anyone interested in donating to help with World Finals expenses may send checks payable to J-L OM, c/o Cindy Bagnasco, P.O. Box 417, Lewiston, MI 49756. Other offers of help in fundraising may be directed to Kim Samkowiak at 370-2323 or at Bksamkowiak@hotmail.com. For more information about OM, visit www.odysseyofthemind.com/
J-L's OM team takes 2nd at state, hosts dinner to help fund upcoming world competition
By Arielle Breen - Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston Middle School Odyssey of the Mind (OM) team has done it again. It is off to compete with teams from 35 countries in the World Finals at OM's problem-solving competition.
The same team with the same coaches as last year’s competition is heading to the World Finals at Iowa State University next month after taking second place in state finals.
Kim Samkowiak, J-L OM coordinator, said the teammates have known each other since starting school at J-L.
“They seemed to gel. They seemed to work more off of each others’ strengths and weaknesses this year,” she said. “Over the years (since kindergarten,) they’re learning each others’ strengths and weaknesses and it’s really starting to come to fruition where they’re actually using that and making it a stronger team.”
Seven other Johannesburg-Lewiston teams also competed at the state tournament in Southern Michigan March 17.
Samkowiak said even though the middle school team of five could have opted to compete in categories they were familiar with and excelled in at the World Finals last year, the students chose to face a new category this year.
“Which is much more difficult because they have to learn the in’s and out’s of different challenges,” she said. “Last year, they did a technical problem… As a team they chose to switch and try something new this year.”
The team chose a long-term challenge where it had to create a 15 gram balsa wood structure that could hold as much weight as possible while also holding food and be able to change appearance. J-L’s structure was 8 inches tall and held 485 pounds.
“And that was through a lot of research of angles and what’s the best angle to hold the most weight. It’s just a completely different challenge than what they’ve ever done before because they’ve always done the technical type challenges,” she said.
Ashlyn Baker, Carlee Campbell, Lizzy Halbert, Cameron Thomas and Cadence Wertman will compete in the same problem-solving category next month with a goal of having the structure be able to hold closer to 600 pounds.
More than 830 teams from 35 countries are expected to compete at the World Finals event in Iowa Wednesday, May 23 through Saturday, May 26.
The team also put in a request to mentor a middle school team again. This time they hope to be a mentor to a team from Poland after mentoring a team from Mexico last year.
Samkowiak said students are still maintaining friendships with the team from Mexico.
“It is more time-consuming, more responsibility, more planning... we really left it up to the kids,” Samkowiak said. “They feel that what they learn and what they gain from the experience outweighs the time that they have to spend doing that (mentorship.)”
But first, the team needs to raise enough money to afford the trip.
“It’s nearly $8,000 in travel, registration, room and board, all expenses for the kids to go,” Samkowiak said.
She said the team aims to raise about half of the cost during a planned fundraiser dinner Friday, April 13.
The school is hosting a donation spaghetti dinner at the J-L High School cafeteria from 4-7:30 p.m. to raise enough to help the team.
The fundraiser will also include gift basket raffles and a 50-50 raffle, spaghetti, salad, bread and dessert. Anyone interested in donating, can contact Kim Samkowiak at (989) 370-2323 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Odyssey of the Mind:
ODYSSEY OF THE MIND:
2 J-L Odyssey of the Mind teams off to world competition
JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston Area Schools district has 12 middle school students who are poised to compete against Odyssey of the Mind teams from around the world later this spring.
In Odyssey of the Mind (OM), students compete to solve long-term projects, technical and on-the-spot spontaneous competitive problem-solving sessions with teams from around the state, nation and world.
Johannesburg-Lewiston sent 14 teams to the Regional Odyssey of the Mind Tournament in Traverse City Feb. 25 and five teams advanced to the State Finals in Middleville March 18.
The two J-L Middle School teams are advancing to the World Finals at Michigan State University for a four-day event starting Tuesday, May 23.
Nikki Neuenfelt, co-coach of the Odd-a-bot team, said she and others are excited for the team.
“They have worked so hard this year and to make it to World Finals is a great accomplishment,” Neuenfelt said. “It has been amazing to watch our team grow as OMers as well as individuals over the last six years."
Both teams are also hosting an international team through OM’s "Buddy Team" program.
While sending two teams is fantastic for the district, it means the accompanying cost is doubled. The district is planning to raise roughly $13,000 to send both teams to the finals.
A fundraiser is set to be held at Paul's Pub, 10757 M-32, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 24.
Holly Atkinson, owner of Paul's Pub, is donating a meal of a salad, entree and dessert for attendees.
Anyone interested in attending and supporting the teams can contact Kim Samkowiak at (989) 370-2323 or email@example.com.
Anyone interested in donating toward the J-L teams' World Finals expenses may send checks payable to J-L OM, c/o Kim Samkowiak, 10854 E. M-32, Johannesburg, MI 49751.
Congratulations J-L OM Teams!
Good Luck OM Teams!
These teams competed on February 25th, 2017 in Traverse City at the OM Regional Tournament.
Coach: Kay Boughner and Sally Nowak
PAST J-L ODYSSEY OF THE MIND TEAMS...
2016 World Finals
Johannesburg-Lewiston High School OM team headed to World Finals; fundraiser on tap April 29th
JOHANNESBURG — An Odyssey of the Mind (OM) team of Johannesburg-Lewiston High School students will advance to the OM World Finals after placing second at the state tournament in Middleville March 19th.
Congratulations to our High School OM Team for getting 2nd place in both Spontaneous and Long Term at states this last weekend in Grand Rapids. They will advance to Worlds in Iowa in May. Great Job team!!!!
Saturday, February 27th we attended the Odyssey of the Mind Regional Competition in Traverse City.
Johannesburg building took 5 competitive teams all which are advancing to the State Finals.
Lewiston School took 5 teams. 3 competitive and 2 primary teams. They have 2 teams that will advance to the State Finals
Congratulations 2016 OM Team Members & Coaches!
A team from Johannesburg-Lewiston Middle School had a memorable time
The finals took place May 28-31, 2014 at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. The J-L team of Hannah Collins, RaeAnn Kievit, Maddy May, Alyssa Bartle, Destiny Sherbonda and Morgan Paton placed 22nd out of 58 teams in their division. The team was coached by Cyndie Kievit and Cindy Bagnasco.
The team left for the tourney May 27 with an escort by the fire department.
During the first day at the finals, the team toured the Iowa State campus, and checked out the competition sites and into their dorms.
The J-L team also had applied to have a buddy team and was paired with another all-girl team from Singapore. Both teams enjoyed the experience. One evening, the two teams went to Walmart where they spent most of their time in the candy aisle.
Pin trading was big at World Finals, too. This is where countries, states, schools and even some individual teams create their own unique pin and bring them to the tournament. Team members then display and trade the pins throughout the competition.
The girls also were able to see all the different ways in which all the competing teams chose to solve the same problem.
To get to the World Finals, the J-L team took first place at the Regional Tournament, advancing to the State Tournament, where they tied for second, which led them to the World Finals.
Johannesburg OM team headed to World Finals
JOHANNESBURG — An Odyssey of the Mind (OM) team of eighth-grade Johannesburg Middle School students will advance to the OM World Finals after tying for second at the state tournament in Traverse City on March 29.
OM is open to anyone who would like to join!
Anyone wishing to participate in the Odyssey of the Mind program