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Local students win big at problem-solving competition

First Street School teams will advance to state tournament
By: Carol Percy, Reporter Lincoln News Messenger
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Three student teams from First Street School in Lincoln won prizes Saturday at the “Odyssey of the Mind” problem-solving competition at Natomas High School in Sacramento.

Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving competition for students of all ages. Teams of students select a problem, create a solution and then present the solution in the form of a skit in a competition against other teams.

Students work in teams of up to seven members, working out the selected problem on their own with the guidance of an adult coach — usually a parent or teacher. Teams have up to eight minutes to act out the problem solution.

Misty Alarcon, a fourth-grade teacher at First Street School and a coach for one of the teams whose skit was entitled, “It’s How You Look At It,” said the program helps students develop both critical thinking skills and teamwork.

“It helps them to think of different ways to solve a problem and teaches them to be respectful of other people’s ideas,” Alarcon said.

Alarcon’s team placed second in the competitions.

The competition’s first-place winner, “The Email Must Go Through,” was coached by parent Sylvia Fulton, whose daughter, Hana Uhler, 10, was a participant.

“I guess for me the biggest thing was helping the kids to think creatively. We have to become a nation of innovative thinkers — we’re never going to be as cheap as China,” Fulton said.

Students volunteered for Odyssey of the Mind, meeting once a week before school for three months. Brady Compaan, 10, a “How You Look At It” team member, said he enjoyed the challenge and the comradery with team members.

“It helps you to think outside the box. You learn how to work with other people and you get to have fun putting on skits. This is my third year. I was kind of nervous at first but now I’m getting used to it,” Brady said.

The third-place winner at the Natomas High School competition was the team who performed “Tumble-wood.”

Two First Street School Odyssey of the Mind teams will advance to the state tournament to be held March 23 in Brentwood.

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