New club stretches students, teaches problem solving skills


Mike Phalen

Junior Fletcher Casey, senior Shep Medlin, and juniors Rhett Kowlok, Alex White and Columbus Dong participate in a problem solving activity during an after school OM meeting.

Hannah Maher, Staff Writer

After receiving a grant from the Dare County Education Foundation, three faculty members held a problem solver’s camp over the summer. This camp was held to help jump start the school’s first Odyssey of the Mind club.

Sophomore Josh Pack, a student who attended the problem solver’s camp, had nothing but good feedback about the camp.

“It was a very good place to advance our problem solving skills, to collaborate with students just like us, and [to] learn from both the students and leaders of the camp,” Pack said.

Odyssey of the Mind is a worldwide club for students in elementary school through college. The club is based on encouraging students to think “outside the box” to solve problems.

Junior Columbus Dong loves the toughness of the problems because he believes that the tougher the problem is, the more you learn from it.

“A lot of the problems we face in the club are very tough and require us to work as a team to figure out,” Dong said. “I know that by working together and solving the problem using an effective solution our team will learn a lot from the experience.”

Each year the team will compete in a competition where students are presented with a problem and they must come up with a solution. At the regional competition held at First Flight High School on March 7, 2015, all groups will present their solution and are judged by a panel. In order to come up with the “best” solution, students are challenged to think creatively and try to provide the judges with not only an effective solution, but one that is both original and creative.

Currently, the Odyssey of the Mind team is working in small groups on three different problems.

The first group is working on developing a simulation of a video game that will explain the Greek myth, Pandora’s Box. In order to do so, they have had to develop characters, backgrounds, levels, villains, and even an energy meter for the character.

The group’s leader, English teacher Joanne Juco, has a positive attitude about how the project is going.

“The students are working very hard and I am more than excited to see how it all comes together,” Juco said.

Junior Erica Stone, a member of the group, is really happy with how the team has worked together to make progress on the task they were given.

“We have all contributed tons of ideas and I’m really happy with how it’s coming together,” Stone said. “I am interested to see what our finished product will be.”

The second group is working to design and build a device out of balsa wood, a very lightweight material with many uses, that will release marbles one at a time while the judges are placing weights on it.

Math teacher Suzanne Pack, the leader of the group, is really happy with the way that her group has been working together.

“We have really strong team players and I think they will do great on this long term project,” Pack said. “We have already learned so much about how to use balsa wood and glue.”

The same group also has to write a performance that ties into the theme of  “Losing Your Marbles.”

Junior Alex White is one of the members working on the performance and is optimistic about how it will turn out.

“I really like how our team is working together,” White said. “We are still trying to decide on a theme but we have narrowed it down to a few and it’s just a matter of picking which one we think will be the best.”

The group with the device that can hold the greatest weight, release five marbles one at a time, and create a very creative drama performance will win.

The third group is working on a puzzle in which they have to create several machines that are powered by rubber bands. In addition to creating machines, they also have to act out a sketch where an engineer is solving a problem with the machines.

The group’s leader, technology coordinator Mike Phelan, likes the challenge that the task offers and wants to have fun with it.

“It is a very fun and challenging problem,” Phelan said. “ Although we are serious when to need to be to try and figure out a solution, we also have a lot of fun shooting lots of rubber bands at each other.”

Sophomore Daniel Mitchum believes the team is making great progress on the machine that they are trying to build.

“Right now we are just finishing up a prototype of a machine that could potentially work,” Mitchum said. “Up until now all our prototypes have been made out of cardboard but soon we will be able to build something closer to the finished project.”

If the team does well in the regional competition, they will then move on to the next level which would mean competing against the nation, and eventually countries from around the world.

Sophomore Taylor Weaver is very excited about the upcoming competition and would like to be able to move on and compete in the nationwide competition.

“The whole team is very excited and nervous about the competition in March,” Weaver said. “We really want to do really well and hopefully if everything comes together like we want it to we will be able to compete in the national competition.”

Many studies suggest that careers in the future will be based on product development that will require employees to come up with creative solutions. Odyssey of the Mind is a tool, aimed to help students expand their minds and enhance their critical thinking skills so that they will be better prepared for what their careers may require of them in the future.

Principal John Luciano supports the program and how it will help the student’s intelligence grow.

“I love that it is a stretch program,” Luciano said. “It really stretches the students that are in the club, highlights their best talents, and helps them to learn how to work as a team.”


On March 7 all three teams attended the regional competition at First Flight High School where they competed against four other teams from easternNorth Carolina.

The solution that Pack’s team and Phelan’s team came up with took first place in their respective categories, while Juco’s team’s solution earned third place in its category.

Phelan was very content and optimistic about how all the students representing Manteo performed during the competition.

“Our teams worked very hard and I was so thrilled with how they performed and what they were able to accomplish.”

Pack plans to take her team to compete on a state level over spring break. If her team’s solution wins in the state competition, they will then compete in a worldwide Odyssey of the Mind competition later on in the year.

Junior Columbus Dong, a member of Pack’s team, is excited about states and the possibility of moving on the worlds.

“We feel pretty good about our solution and hope to do really well at the state competition so that we can go on to worlds,” Dong said. “We are a new team, so we will try our hardest and what happens, happens.