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Spotlight on Education: Rowlett Elementary Team Places 2nd in Odyssey of the Mind State Championships


BRADENTON – Seven students from Rowlett Elementary are headed to Iowa State University this month for the 2014 Odyssey of the Mind State Championships, a competition based on creative problem-solving. The team, which is comprised of 3rd-5th grade students at the district charter school, recently took second place at the state competition, earning the right to advance.

The event, which takes place May 28-31, will include teams from the United States and 25 other countries. The Rowlett team includes the following students:  fifth graders, Daniel Rivera, Emory Hemmel, Jack Kelly, forth graders Jackson Bendixen, Gabby Sgro, Riley Williams, and third grader Roman Bendixen.

“This is just the type of program our children need to participate in to enhance their critical thinking skills as well as their problem solving ability,” said Rowlett Elementary principal Brian Flynn. “The synergistic approach to teamwork is also an important component of the Odyssey of the Mind experience that will help prepare our students for success in the future.”


Christine Sket, who volunteers her time as an Odyssey of the Mind coach for Rowlett, has been working with the kids on problem solving and team building since the beginning of the school year.

“Odyssey of the Mind teaches students to learn creative problem-solving methods while having fun in the process," said Sket. "By tapping into creativity, and through encouraging imaginative paths to problem-solving, students learn skills that will provide them with the ability to solve problems – great and small – for a lifetime.”

In the competition, each team had to work together to solve a “long term” problem where they prepared an 8-minute performance that answers the problem, while utilizing props and special effects. The problems are judged upon originality and engineering. The Rowlett team chose “The Not-So-Haunted House” as their long-term problem. The focus of this team’s performance is to present a creative and artistic solution to a technical/mechanical problem. Each team must also solve a spontaneous problem (an impromptu problem given to the team by the judges) within approximately eight minutes.

The cost of going to the Iowa competition is approximately $1,500 per student, so the team is trying to raise much of the money by participating in fundraising activities. The students plan to sell t-shirts and Mother’s Day plants at the Rowlett Arts Day Festival on May 3rd from 11 – 3. They will be collecting donations at the Westgate Publix at 3913 Manatee Avenue W. on May 17th from 10 – 4. The Odyssey of the Mind students and families will also be working for tips and donations busing tables at Ellenton’s Hungry Howies on May 20th from 4 – 8 p.m at 5912 18th St. E., Ellenton.

If your business has a fundraising opportunity you would like to present to the team, or if you would personally like to make a donation to the team’s “Worlds” fund, you can contribute at GoFundMe.com/8ecia4 or write a check made out to: Rowlett Elementary. Address it to:

Rowlett Elementary
C/O Christine Sket and Odessey of the Mind
3500 9th St. E.
Bradenton, FL 34208


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