CLARKS SUMMIT — A team of fifth graders from Abington Heights Middle School recently placed sixth out of 64 teams in the prestigious Odyssey of the Mind competition.
The team of Siena Bossi, Gigi Butala, Sadie Gilbert, Amelia Gonzalez, Sadie O’Brien, Marli Tinkelman and Madeline Walsh won first place in the regional competition on March 17, advancing to the world competition as one of two teams from Pennsylvania in their division. The world competition took place from May 23 to 27 at Iowa State University.
There were teams at the world competition from all 50 states, as well as many countries. The competition was open to kids from kindergarten to college.
The Abington Heights team came together to produce a mockumentary of the children’s book ”Charlotte’s Web,” including making their own props and costumes.
Odyssey of the Mind was founded in 1978. It recognizes the importance of science, technology, engineering and math skills. It has partnered with organizations such as NASA, IBM and Microsoft.
“It was a two-hour trip after we landed in Iowa to the university,” said Julia Tinkleman coach of the team. “They were having record breaking heat when we were there.”
For one team member, this was her first time flying. “It was really cool but at the same time weird,” said Madeline Walsh, who plays the lamb.
“We wore shamrock necklaces for the regional competition,” said Marli Tinkleman, who plays Templeton. “For worlds, we cut them up and put them in our braids,” she said. “They were our good luck charms.”
“I was holding a puppet during the world competition,” said Gigi Butala who played the fly on the wall. “I was so nervous that my hand holding the puppet was shaking.”
“I don’t get nervous but I was nervous to see what place we’d get,” said Siena Bossi who played Charlotte. “They started calling the winners from sixth place on up. Once we heard where we placed, it was really cool. They showed our picture on a big screen.”
“We kept our heads down and our arms locked when they were announcing the winners,” said Sadie Gilbert who played Fern. “When we heard our names and where we placed, we started screaming.”
Pin trading was a favorite activity and the team traded pins with teams from Japan, Canada, Singapore, Poland, China and South Korea.
“I got some really neat pins,” said Sadie O’Brien who was the goose. “I got pins from teams from Vermont and Connecticut and also other countries.”
The team took pins with them in the shape of Pennsylvania which included the barn setting, a web and characters from the story.
“I think for me, the best part was destroying the props,” said Walsh “We broke apart all of our props that we used and threw them in the dumpster.”
“It was fun staying in the dorms with your friends,” said Amelia Gonzales, who played Wilbur. “When they announced the winners, everyone cheered and stared spraying us with silly string. That was fun.”
“It was an amazing experience,” said Butala.