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Rea View students ranked first in Odyssey of Minds world competition

The Rea View Elementary Odyssey of the Minds team won first place in Division One against 36 teams that were mostly from the US, but also from Shanghai, Singapore, Poland and Canada. The problem they had to solve was titled “Nature Trail’R.”

A group of Rea View Elementary students took the world by storm recently when they won first place in their division at the Odyssey of the Minds (OM) World Competition held in Michigan.
“It’s still hard for me to believe it,” said team member Kyle Schwartz, 11, a fifth garder. “I hear the words, ‘You’ve won the world competition,’ but it’s still processing in my head right now.”
“I kept having to look at my medal, thinking, ‘We can’t possibly have won.’ Then I would see the medal around my neck and know we had,” said team member Chris Graveline, 11, a fifth grader. “I keep having to do that over and over.”

The six team members from Rea View Elementary are Chase Kanipe, 11, a fifth-grader; Chris Graveline, his sister, Madison Graveline, 8, a third grader; Kyle Schwartz; Carter Venable, 11, a fifth grader; and Spencer Rubottom, 10, a fourth-grader. Their coaches are Doug Schwartz, Donna Machael, and Kelly Rubottom.
“Odyssey of the Minds is a competition in complex problem solving,” said Donna Kanipe, OM chairperson for Rea View Elementary. “The Rea View team won at both the regional and state competitions and then advanced to the world competition held recently at Michigan State University.
“At the highest level, it’s a creative problem-solving competition,” said coach Schwartz. “This was truly a global competition. There were 18 countries and 38 states in the US that sent teams.”
The Rea View team won in Division One, against 36 teams mostly from the US, but also from Shanghai, Singapore, Poland and Canada. The problem they had to solve was titled “Nature Trail’R.” (See related story about friendship with Shanghai OM team.)
Their problem was two-fold: a long-term problem and a spontaneous problem that had to be solved on the spot. The long-term problem was to design a vehicle that would travel a nature trail, encounter wildlife, overcome an obstacle, improve the environment and then appear to break down, but then be repaired. The students are judged on verbal and hands-on abilities.
A skit has to be written about the vehicle that is created by the team, and the skit and operation of the vehicle have to be performed in front of the judges, with all the challenges included. Students are limited to spending $145 for their project.

“So it really encourages reusing things like trash and recyclables,” said Coach Rubottom. “Almost all of our coral was the Styrofoam pieces that came out the boxes we used for sets. They took the Styrofoam and spray painted it to make it colorful.”
The Rea View OM team decided to have an underwater theme, with their vehicle being a hermit crab. The theme’s idea originated in the creative mind of Kyle Schwartz. “I was trying to think outside the box and figured that an underwater camping trip in Atlantis would be unique,” he said.
The theme was then transformed into an eight-minute skit by Chase Kanipe. The vehicle, which was engineered by Spencer Rubottom, Chris Graveline and Chase Kanipe, took the entire team to build.
“This particular vehicle was awesome,” said Coach Schwartz. “It scored every possible point that could be scored and was truly one of the differentiating characteristics that helped propel us to win world. It wasn’t an everyday solution. We have some talent on our team that did it.”
The coaches serve in an advisory capacity only, and are not allowed to either physically assist in making the vehicles or have any part in the actual competition.

When a few unforeseen problems arose in the mechanics of their vehicle, the
Rea View students met those head-on, said Coach Schwartz, ultimately increasing their score.
“One of the things the judges look for is teamwork,” he said. “The team held together. They never started arguing among themselves. They were very supportive of each other. They did it with a big smile on their faces and a good attitude. And in the end, it probably helped.”
The team raised $10,000 to pay for travel expenses such as hotel costs, gas and food. They did so with fundraisers over a year’s period and donations from area businesses that included Raintree Country Club, Ballantyne Country Club, Firethorne Country Club, RR Donnelley, Aloft Hotels, Bank of America, International Paper, Camp Lake James, Sun City Carolina Lakes, Charlotte Golf Links, Mud Pie, H.E.A.T. Pro Fitness, Goodrich Corporation, Huck’s Sportswear, Carefree Boat Club of Lake Norman and Carvel.
Boy Scout Pack 101 let the team borrow their trailer for hauling the vehicle and props for the competition.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Jun 09, 2010 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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