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Piedmont Odyssey of the Mind advances to World Finals in May

Piedmont High School Odyssey of the mindOdyssey of the Mind

(top) Piedmont Elementary Odyssey of the Mind members Gabrielle McGarraugh, Dylan Kling, Nate Brant, Colby Bethea, Justin Whiting, Ashton Raymond and Parker Taggart placed second in a wooden structure competition.
(Left) Piedmont High School Odyssey of the Mind members (front row) Jaidyn McAdoo, Chad Weemhoff, (back row) Payton Strubhar, Parker Strubhar, Lennart Denecke, Quent Wheeler and Jake Loper show off their costumes.


Fourteen Piedmont students will be traveling to Michigan State University, May 22 – 25 to compete in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. The students, sponsored by the Piedmont Kiwanis Club, competed at the State competition on April 13 at Oklahoma State University.

 Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem solving competition where students are encouraged to think outside the box. The program challenges students to find creative solutions to problems they encounter and prepares them to be the innovators of the future.

Teams from around the state competed on Saturday with the teams that finish in first or second place advancing to the World Finals in East Lansing, Michigan.

Both teams competed in a problem that required them to design and build a structure using only balsa wood and glue. The structure had to be featured in a team created performance and tested by being released down a ramp so it drops on the floor. The team tests the structure by balancing and supporting as much weight as possible.

Fourth graders Parker Taggart, Nate Brant, Dylan Kling, Colby Bethea, Gabrielle McGarraugh, Ashton Raymond, and Justin Whiting competed in the elementary division and finished in second place.

The structure they created held 372 pounds which was more than any other elementary team in the state of Oklahoma.more

They are coached by Cheryl Taggart.

High School students Jake Loper, Jaidyn McAdoo, Parker Strubhar, Payton Strubhar, Chad Weemhoff, Lennart Denecke and Quent Wheeler participated in the high school division and finished in first place. Their balsa wood structure held 652 lbs. They dominated over second place Jenks High School whose structure held 512 lbs in the weight portion of the com petition. They are coached by Jennifer Strubhar.

In addition to their first place finish, the high school team also received the highest honor of the Odyssey of the Mind Competition, the Ranatra Fusca Creativity Award. It is given to teams who exhibit exceptional creativity and is a way to acknowledge and encourage creative thinking and risk taking.

They were given this award because of two props they created for use in their problem solution.

The first was a costume made only from a phone book and spray paint. The other winning creation was a team effort that took over 100 hours and 25 pounds of beans – a life size cow that was made of papier mache and covered with beans.

Some of the judges remarked that it was the most amazing thing they had seen in all of their years of judging State and World Odyssey of the Mind competitions.

The victory by these two teams is especially meaningful because they feared that their dreams of participating in Odyssey of the Mind this year were over.

For the past 10 years, Piedmont Public Schools has been the sponsor of the program. This year Piedmont Public Schools decided they would no longer sponsor the Odyssey of the Mind program. Teams are not permitted to participate in Odyssey of the Mind without a sponsoring organization. However these students refused to give up and used their problem solving skills to find a way to continue in the program. They began researching other possibilities for sponsorship.

The Piedmont Kiwanis Club graciously stepped in to sponsor the two teams.

Coaches Taggart and Strubhar hope to reestablish Piedmont’s once ardent participation in Odyssey next year.

Both teams are working to improve their problem solutions for the World Competition in May.

They are also currently raising money to help offset the cost of the trip.

They will be holding a Garage Sale on Friday, April 19 in the lot south of Stone’s Hardware.

Donation for the teams can be made at The Great Plains National Bank for the Piedmont Creativity Club.

1 Comment

  1. Darrel Booth says:

    Congratulations to Piedmont students and the Kiwanis Club of Piedmont since 1977 has been a strong supporter of our youth. It is a shame that this group of volunteers has fallen from a high of 49 members to its present 10-15.

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