For the past 17 years, an Odyssey of the Mind Team from Coronado K-8 School has not qualified for world finals.
The 2010 team is breaking that streak. Coronado's squad finished first in regionals and second in state, guaranteeing a spot for the 2010 World Finals in Michigan later this month.
Coronado students Ryan Hornby, Abigail and Alexander Pye, Chris Porteous, Kamden Kautz and Chloe Telles make up the team that will be performing an eight-minute educational skit alongside more than 800 teams from around the world.
Parent volunteer Linda Allyn took the reins as the team's coach for the first time this year. With her coaching and motivation, the team has been practicing and preparing for the competition a few times a week.
"I think that this team was really motivated," Allyn said. "They have been together three years and had won first place in the regionals two years ago, but did not qualify at the state tournament. And last year they didn't qualify either.
"We had lots more practices and lots more time building props. I gave them more opportunity, I think, to work. In the past, they met one day a week at the school. This year, we met on an average of two to three times a week."
Odyssey of the Mind is a competition in which students in different age divisions choose a category to compete in. The categories are mechanical/vehicle, technical performance, classics, structure and performance.
The team from Coronado chose the classic theme, with a problem that ranges from literature to architecture to art. Students could be asked to rewrite history or bring paintings to life.
The job of the coach is to ask questions of the group and to encourage them. The coach does not guide or give the students help in figuring out any solution.
Some of the group members are participating in Odyssey of the Mind for the third year in a row. One of those members is 11-year-old Abigail Pye.
"We have a really amazing group with us," Pye said. "We all started out not knowing each other and now we are all friends. Everyone pitches in to help and we all make decisions together."
She said it is really exciting to go compete, knowing the school hasn't gone to the world competition since 1993.
Their skit takes them into the past, where they discover King Tut's burial mask on an archeological dig. Then, in the future, the students discover the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Through the performance they have to explain how the Arch became lost, and how it was rediscovered.
With this skit, the group of elementary students had to write and build everything. They solved problems with different materials for backdrops and props, and learned how to work each student into the performance. The students wrote the scripts and came up with all of the ideas together.
"It's really fun without the help of (adults)," Kamdem said. "I like working with the team because if I don't know the answer to something, its not like I'm going to get an F or something, you have people to back you up."
Aside from the hard work and time that has gone into preparing for the world competition, the students are simply excited to go.
"We are all saying to each other, 'who cares what place we get?' we made it to world," Chloe said.
The group is traveling to Michigan State University for the competition, which will take place May 26 through May 29. With a cost of $1,000 per student, the group is trying to raise enough money for the trip by selling things to classmates. Some of the items sold to classmates for $1 each are passes to wear sunglasses or a hat during class. They are also holding a silent auction and selling Odyssey of the Mind bracelets. SaddleBrooke Community Outreach has donated $400 per student to cover the expenses. With that large donation, the OM is about $3,000 short of covering its expenses.
Donations may be made through Coronado K-8 School directly, or with the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit through the state's Department of Revenue website at www.azdor.gov