Pennwood Middle School has sent a team of seventh graders to Michigan State University to compete in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals this Wednesday through Saturday, May 25.

Coach and Pennsbury parent Krista Oleynick will lead Pennwood as they represent Pennsbury School District through the competition. The team’s performances are scheduled for May 23 and 25.

This is not the first taste of success the group of seven has had in OM. In 2017, the team went to Worlds as fifth graders. The team also placed second at both the regional and state OM events which qualified them for the world championship.

From left: Superintendent Dr. William Gretzula, Pennwood Middle School seventh graders Daniel Kim, Megan Oleynick, Caylee VanVeen, Sophie Oleynick, Harshavi Birla, Dominic Gentile, and Milo Cabral (who attends Bucks Learning Cooperative). Photo via Pennsbury School District.

OM is a competition held every year that challenges the minds of students K-12 throughout the world. The objective is for students to develop and utilize creative problem solving skills to figure out an issue posed to them.

The problems focus mainly on STEM, with an added requirement; Each solution has to include an arts piece, whether that be acting, singing, or playing an instrument.

Pennwood’s squad will participate in two different events at the world competition: the long-term event and the spontaneous event.

Long-term problems demand months of work and preparation. These answers must culminate in a live performance.

In contrast, the participants are unable to prepare for the spontaneous problem; Students receive their prompt on arrival to the stage. They only have a few minutes to think up a solution before presenting it to the judges.

The Pennwood group’s long-term problem was entitled ‘Leonardo’s Workshop.” It revolved around the creative process of 15th century inventor Leonardo da Vinci.

This problem required them to present an original performance and create three team-made recreations of da Vinci’s works to be used as props. Their play had to be less than eight minutes long and include three different characters: Leonardo, a positive character that gives him a question to figure out, and a ‘naysayer’ who debunks one of da Vinci’s inventions.

This is the 35th year of participation for the Pennsbury School District, and it shows in their participation; every single school in the district was represented at the regional competition.

You can find the entire competition schedule here.

WBCB’s Wes Champlin contributed to this post.