Lehigh Valley teams going to World Finals in scholastic competition


Two groups representing one local school district are getting ready to compete on the world stage in a unique event, the Odyssey of the Mind 2018 World Finals.

Southern Lehigh Middle School will have two teams competing in next month's event which is taking place at Iowa State University.

It will feature hundreds of teams from 25 countries.

"It's kind of like science meets theater and they have a problem to solve and they use their creativity and they get to show their solution," says coach Jim Grabusky.

At the World Finals, teams, split into age divisions, have to solve two problems and present their solutions in front of a panel of judges.

The first problem is actually solved months prior. Teams can show their answers in different ways, from building vehicles and objects to performing skits and songs for eight minutes.

Then at the competition, teams are given an on-the-spot "spontaneous" problem to solve in five minutes. Whoever scores the highest wins.

Each team had to win at regional and state championships to get to the World Finals.

"They're a very creative bunch and so we knew they had the potential," says coach Laurissa Kashmer.

At the finals, one group of seven boys, is answering a question by building objects and vehicles Leonardo da Vinci invented.

The core of the team has been together for three years and their coach is confident.

"They just have a lot of teamwork and they all build upon each other's energy and they just challenge each other to do better and better every day," says Grabusky.

The other group of seven girls, is solving a problem by creating a humorous performance centered on science fiction. They portray an Intergalactic Hangout where all sorts of creatures from different worlds stop, eat, refuel, and relax and a search for space treasure. Their core has also been together for three years.

"They've been on similar stages in terms of presenting their problems but they just never have been around so many other creative teams,' says Kashmer adding, "So as long as their nerves don't get the best of them I think they're gonna do just fine."

Both groups have their eye on the prize with the hopes of winning for the Lehigh Valley but they need some help getting there.

Sending teams to the finals involves significant expense.

In total, factoring in participation fees, room and board, and transportation, expenses will approach $20,000.

Anyone who wants to help out can contact Heidi Schiavone at schiavoneh@slsd.org or 610-861-4040 x1009 or x1251.

Donors can also send a donation to JPLIS PTG, Attention: SL Odyssey of the Mind at 5438 Rte 378, Bethlehem, PA 18015.

All donations are tax deductible.

The team has also set up a GoFundMe.

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