Two teams of Md. youngsters prove world-class in creativity

June 02, 1999|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County's world champions of creativity were delivered to school in a white limousine yesterday to the cheers of hundreds of classmates.

Having captured a first place in the Odyssey of the Mind's 20th annual world finals, the team of seven Kingsville Elementary pupils -- wearing gold medals around their necks -- stepped out of the limo into hugs from their principal and onto red carpet leading into the school.

"It's just awesome that we won," said fourth-grader Courtney Rieder, 10.

The Kingsville pupils made up one of two Maryland teams to win their divisions in the world problem-solving competition held during the Memorial Day weekend at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. The other was Fallston Middle School in Harford County.

They are the first Maryland schools to capture top honors in the world championships, Odyssey of the Mind officials believe.

"It was just so exciting to see the kids win," said third-grade teacher Amy DeNike, who has been coaching Kingsville's team for 13 years.

Students were divided into categories by age and the type of long-term problem they chose to solve. Problems included "Over the Mountain" -- in which students designed and built a vehicle capable of crossing terrain in three countries to collect souvenirs -- and "O, My Faire Shakespeare," where students rewrote a scene from a Shakespearean play.

Kingsville and Fallston won in the "Customer Service" division. They presented eight-minute performances involving a sales transaction that included a memorable customer and "a demonstration of an original product which reflects some aspect of the culture in which the performance takes place."

Kingsville created a sick red car with a thermometer. When anti-freeze didn't work, "anti-sneeze" was used to make the car feel better, said fifth-grader Jessica Baroody, 10.

"We practiced and we practiced until it was just perfect," Jessica said. Some team members got up at 5 a.m. so they could rehearse in a campus garage before their 8 a.m. performance.

The other portion of the competition asked students to answer a question, giving them one minute to prepare and several more to respond.

The Kingsville youngsters students were told that they were in a hot-air balloon with a pair of binoculars, and were asked to describe what they could see. Creative answers -- such as a Sammy Sosa home run that looked like a lightning bug -- were awarded more points.

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