Quick thinking earns award in Odyssey of the Mind

April 28, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Fast repair work with a hot glue gun, a rubber band and some kite string produced a special judges' award for Dustin Holland, 14, of West Middle School, in the state championships for Odyssey of the Mind over the weekend in Catonsville.

Another team from the school got a special judges' award. None of the four teams from Carroll County scored high enough in the state finals to go to the world championship in June, however.

Odyssey of the Mind is a mental Olympics-style competition for students who solve specific problems, such as designing and building motorized objects and weight-bearing structures out of balsa wood.

Dustin, an eighth-grader, and his teammates from West Middle School were dismayed to discover -- 10 minutes before they were to go before judges Saturday -- that part of their entry, which had been left in a warm parked car all morning, had melted.

Actually, only the head of the "iguanathon," a creature the team made up, had melted and fallen off, said Cindy Holland, Dustin's mother.

Dustin was able to fix that with a hot glue gun in the "emergency kit" the boys on the team had brought along.

But when he turned on the battery-powered remote control that would make the iguanathon move, the battery was dead.

So Dustin went back to the emergency kit and rigged a rubber band and kite string to the creature's head, and he operated it from backstage.

"The judge went back and asked how it worked," Mrs. Holland said.

Dustin told him how the creature was originally supposed to work, and why he was now using a low-technology method.

Mrs. Holland said her son has an affinity for electronics, and has rigged an alarm to his bedroom door. It alerts him if his two younger brothers try to go inside.

West Middle has never before had a team in Odyssey of the Mind. The PTA raised money to sponsor the teams this year.

The other team from the school was required to build a wood structure in the context of a story. The team also got a special judges' award for creativity for incorporating an African folk tale into their presentation, Mrs. Holland said.

The other Carroll County teams that participated were from Sykesville Middle School, sponsored by the Freedom District Optimist Club, and Freedom Elementary School, sponsored by its PTA.

All four teams got to go to the state championships by placing among the top three in their divisions in the regional competition last month in Hagerstown.

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