MANATEE COUNTY — If it really is an issue of mind over matter, then a team of East County high school students will soon be heading to Ames, Iowa, to compete in the world finals for Odyssey of the Mind, an international education program that emphasizes creative problem-solving.
But in this case, the matter — or rather means — does make a difference.
The seven-member team from Southeast High School has less than three weeks to raise about $7,000. The cost covers housing, travel and other expenses for the competition, which is being held May 27-30 at Iowa State University.
“It is the hardest thing about making it to world finals,” the team’s coach Samantha Robinson said. “You have such a short time to raise money.”
Students qualified for world finals during the state competition April 4, but did not get permission from their principal to attend the conference until weeks later after returning from spring break and sorting through proposed administrative changes at Southeast.
Team members already have decided to forego opening ceremonies to trim on expenses and have chosen to fly in to Chicago, nearly a six-hour drive from Ames, for the same reason.
The team has applied and been declined for several grants. It currently is waiting to hear back on grants from the Manatee Education Foundation, which has indicated it may not be able to help this year, and from the Odyssey of the Mind.
“It’s disappointing when you get that far and the only barricade in your way is the amount of money,” Panther Ridge resident Luca Erozer, 17, said.
“We would never know how well we could have done,” 17-year-old Ben Robinson added.
During state competition, this Odyssey of the Mind team won second place in its division for its solution to a long-term problem called “Shock Waves.” Teams had to design and construct a structure out of balsa wood and glue that would balance and support as much weight as possible while absorbing shock waves. They also had to create a skit around the testing of the structure.
To help get this team to the World Finals through a financial sponsorship, call Samantha Robinson at 518-5698.
For more information about Odyssey of the Mind or the competition, visit www.odysseyofthe mind.com.
Contact Pam McTeer at [email protected].
Benjamin Robinson, coach