Five students from Martin Luther King High School recently competed at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals tournament held at Michigan State University. The international creativity competition, attended by over 820 teams from around the world, drew on the top two winners from over 30 states and 12 foreign countries.
The King High School team, comprised of sophomores Hannah Larsen, Zachary Larsen, Hannah Johnson, Sherry Wang, and senior Heather Salfrank, competed in the “Email must go through” challenge. For this challenge, teams had to create a device to transport tangible representations of emails that traveled eight feet during a play written by the students. The team decided to think outside the box, and, instead of creating a play and device focused on computers and email, wrote a Chinese fable about a traditional Chinese girl sending messages to the mythical Phoenix.
The team used a radio controlled bird, cars powered by mouse traps, and a team-created Jansen machine to transport their messages. The team members also made their own costumes and elaborate scenery, which consisted of a Chinese temple made completely of recycled materials and four scenes made with pop-up book elements. One costume, which had to be made from a trash item, was almost completely comprised of parts from soda cans.
At the tournament, the team finished 9th out of 48 high school teams in their challenge. In addition, the team’s style score was the top score out of all 827 teams competing, with this score reflecting the artistic impression of the team’s scenery and costumes. Coaches Dr. Lynn Larsen, associate dean for Brandman University, and Dr. Paul Larsen, associate professor for UC Riverside, have been coaching Odyssey of the Mind teams for nine years, taking four teams to the world finals. “For a small team comprised of students not involved in theater to do so well at this international competition is a testament to their perseverance and creativity,” said coach Lynn Larsen. Team member Hannah Larsen said, “It was incredible meeting students from around the country and world, and seeing the imaginative things they could do. I learned that I can solve problems creatively and in high pressure situations.”
The team would like to acknowledge the support of Cathy Kreter from CJ Designs, Brandman University, Dr. Hough-Everage, Media Temple, the Riverside Education Enrichment Foundation, and many other private and business sponsors.