Midtown Raleigh News

With cars that cry, ‘Odyssey’ kids place high

Their challenges ranged from cars that feel to extra-strong structures made only from balsawood and glue, but Wake County teams placed high in the 2012 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in Ames, Iowa, last month.

The West Raleigh Rotary Club, a self-assembled team of middle school-aged friends amid many school-based competitors, ranked fifth of 43 teams in Division II. Their problem, titled “Ooh-Motional Vehicle,” required teams to design, build and drive a vehicle that showed human emotions in three different situations as it drove across a course.

“When we went to the competition I was like, OK, there are a lot of people here, other people probably have something better,” said team member Spencer DeMartz, a rising ninth-grader at Millbrook High School. “Then we placed fifth, and just thinking about it was awesome, because there were people from Asia, Poland, all these other countries and continents.”

Started more than 30 years ago in New Jersey, the Odyssey of the Mind creativity and problem-solving competition draws student teams from around the world. More than 2,000 students participated earlier this year in the initial Eastern Region competition, which includes Wake County.

Three other Raleigh teams went to the world tournament along with the West Raleigh Rotary Club team: Sycamore Creek Elementary, Partnership Elementary and Carnage Middle. Teams worked for months, and first had to be top winners in their state to qualify.

Raleigh-area teams, which were among 815 competitors at the world finals, finished strong. A team from Carnage Magnet Middle nabbed seventh place in Division 2 working to solve a problem titled “You Make the Call,” which required teams to design and build a balsawood structure supporting as much weight as possible. The Sycamore Creek Elementary team finished 16th, and the Partnership Elementary team finished 20th in Division 1 teams solving the same problem.

Farther afield, a team from Morrisville Elementary won third place in Division 1 for the students’ take on the Ooh-Motional Vehicle.