Bethel, CT, April 2016 — A team of seven Bethel Middle School students won 1st place at Odyssey of the Mind’s 35th annual statewide competition held on April 2nd 2016, at Bristol Eastern High and Stafford Elementary Schools. Back in November 2015, Principal of BMS, Mr. Muharem, encouraged students to participate in a program that challenges young minds to work as a team to creatively solve a set of problems. Satvik Addala, Joseph Iorfino, Dheeraj Banala, Lorenzo Cazzaniga, Luca Cazzaniga, Partha Kaul and Brooks Baldwin took the opportunity to take part in this year’s challenge.
The Division I team, coached by family volunteers Kalyan Addala and Prashanth Singh met on a weekly basis over a period of three months in preparation for the State wide competition. Of the five problems designated by the Odyssey of The Mind association, BMS students unanimously chose the Stack Attack challenge as their long-term project. The primary challenge was to design and build a structure made only of balsa wood and glue that could sustain as much weight as possible while weighing no more than 15 grams itself. The team also had to perform an original commercial that incorporated the process of checking the strength of the structure, twice. As if that was not challenging enough, all of this was to be completed in 8 minutes from setup to wrap-up, in front of a sizable audience.
Satvik, Dheeraj and Brooks dedicated their time to creating and testing various structures with Balsa wood, while Lorenzo, Luca, Partha and Joseph let their imagination loose to weave a story involving the structure and their efforts to test its limits. The result was a triangular shaped balsa wood structure and a fantastic story filled with “Candy Land”, “Coca-Cola River”, “Chocolate Bridge”, “Magic Mentos” and props & costumes to bring it all to life.
The Stack-Attack performance began with the Bethel Middle School team announcing in unison “We are ready to roll!” While Joseph started the performance with his eloquent narration of a “Candy land” and a “Chocolate Bridge” that obstructed the flow of “Coca-Cola River”, the entire team stepped up to play their part to solve their problem. Dheeraj started placing weights on the structure. Satvik and Luca joined the effort to gently stack weights one over the other. The audience held their breath and erupted in a huge applause when the structure gave way after withstanding a whopping 560 pounds of weight.
Though these 6th – 8th grade students started off with no expectations, their journey was a mix of fun & long hours of effort, learning stuff & goofing off, challenges faced & solutions found, cutting card board & gluing balsa wood and countless pizza dinners. The team building alone was worth the effort and a 1st place finish was icing on the cake.
What comes next for this team is the Worlds Finals, an opportunity that these kids do not get to experience very often. Satvik, Joseph, Dheeraj, Lorenzo, Luca, Partha and Brooks are looking forward to attending the 35th Annual Odyssey of The Mind Competition (Worlds Finals) on May 25th at Iowa State University, where they will face competitors from around the globe including China, Poland and Japan.
The team is seeking financial support from Bethel community to cover a portion of the steep costs (approx. 15K) to stand a chance of gaining this experience and also help put Bethel Schools on the world map. If you would like to extend your generous support for this life-changing experience, please contact the parents at firstname.lastname@example.org. You could also use the following link to support the team with your contribution: https://www.gofundme.com/daxv7bm4.
For more information on Odyssey of The Mind, please visit www.odysseyofthemind.com.