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Langley Elementary School Odyssey of the Mind Team places fourth in Virtual State Finals

Langley Elementary School’s Odyssey of the Mind (OM) Team recently placed fourth in the Virtual State Finals competition. There were 68 teams from across Virginia competing in the tournament.

The Langley team participated in the problem Virtual Odyssey. The challenge included working together to create and perform a skit with technical components, specific effects, and creative challenges in which a character unknowingly enters the virtual reality world where she encounters a nefarious creature and must get help to earn credits to find her way back home.

“Langley's OM team worked very hard to create their solution this year, despite the challenge of never meeting in-person as a team,” said sponsor Melanie Martin. “They did all of their brainstorming, writing, creating, rehearsing and performing through Zoom. While it was difficult to create their devices independently, without working together as a team in-person, the third through fifth graders collaborated to share ideas and solutions to the challenges. Additionally, they practiced for the ‘spontaneous’ portion of the competition weekly, sharing their clever rhymes, puns and word play in order to show their best effort for the virtual competition.”

Langley principal Elizabeth Franks said, “Our OM team worked so incredibly hard this year, meeting twice a week to brainstorm and bounce ideas getting to the root of their problem and creating an amazing interactive virtual response. As both principal and mom of a member of the team it was a joy to listen to their engaging, creative dialogue and the absolute fun and enjoyment they were having each time they met. I am incredibly proud of their fourth place success, they certainly earned it!”

Martin also shared that some of her team members were on the OM team last year and were heartbroken when schools closed for in-person instruction just one week before the competition in March 2020. They diligently worked on their solution together as a team for months, but were unable to compete last year. For the team members who were able to join the team again this year, she said she was delighted they would have another chance to work on an OM solution, albeit virtually, and compete this year. The students reminisced what a different experience it was to work together entirely virtually this year, while remembering the previous year when they did artwork together for their scenery, constructed their props together out of PVC pipe, and when two students held the 2x4 wood while another hammered nails to create their device. Despite missing the physical togetherness of the team, the team members learned the skill of collaborating on ideas virtually, working on shared Google documents and using Zoom features to creatively present their solution, despite technical challenges. 

OM is all about challenges and creating clever, outside-the-box solutions. Martin said her team was challenged more than ever before this year, but they still rose to the challenge and showed off their creativity.

Martin shared, “I am very proud of all their hard work and truly enjoyed watching them learn new skills and working together virtually. I know that the skills they learned of teamwork, collaboration, problem solving, and creative thinking are skills they will carry with them the rest of their lives.  I am confident of that, as I am an OMer since childhood too. I competed in regional tournaments, state finals and world finals in elementary, middle and high schools.”

Martin also serves as the Odyssey of the Mind coordinator for all HCS schools.