Odyssey of the Mind Team wins States, headed to Worlds


Submitted Photo

(left to right) Greg Sanborn, Kyle Harr, Kavita Kute, Katie Harr, Jane Peters, Lauren Eglin, and Jaden Weed.

Advancing to the World Championship Odyssey of the Mind Competition at Iowa State University was nothing new to senior member Katie Harr and Coach Patty Harr, but it was new to younger members on the team. After success in regionals, the team of 7 headed to States, where they placed 1st in their problem and overall.

“The top two teams of each state, each problem, and each division go to Worlds. A total of 35 Pennsylvania teams made it to Worlds,” explained Katie Harr.

This year, the team’s problem was Classics, which emphasized Literature and Art. The other problems focused on Vehicles, Engineering, Balsa Structure, and Performance. Like always, the Spontaneous category is an on-the-spot problem solving event where the judges overlook all the team’s techniques and how their solution is engineered. This category is secondary in the overall points given. This category can either make or break the competition, and North Penn crushed it.

Before Regionals, the team can not share any information about their problem for any feedback or ideas. But during the time between regionals and states, the team has the feedback and scores given to them at regionals to correct any mistakes. All judges leading up to Worlds are adult volunteers, mostly made up of the parents of students.

“It is all based on volunteering, each team sends two parents of family or  friends to help judge other team’s problems. There’s some good and bad of having the parents judge. The good is that they are just like you. They don’t get paid, they want to be there just like you, and they enjoy it. But sometimes they don’t understand it because they aren’t as involved in it as you may be,” stated Harr.

The team continues to practice at least twice a week leading up to Worlds, which will be held May 23rd through the 26th. Pennsylvania, California, and Florida, are very competitive in the United States for OOTM, but other countries such as China, Poland, and Singapore bring high competition as well.

For some members of the team, this is their first time going to Worlds. For sophomore Jaden Weed, Odyssey of the Mind was an unexpected gem he found at the North Penn Activities Fair in the beginning of the year.

“This is my first time winning states and first time going to Worlds. I have the least amount of experience on the team, but it is all exciting. It was so crazy for me because I didn’t even have Odyssey on my mind, and at the activities fair, I was thinking maybe this is something I’m still interested in. That’s when I ran into Mrs. Harr. That’s when they found me. From there I still wasn’t sure if i was going to do it, and then it just took off from there. I did not expect any of it,” explained Weed.

Senior member Katie Harr is heading to Worlds for the fourth year in a row. While she has four under her belt, she recognizes that each year there are uncontrollables that can alter the outcome.

“Every single state championship is different because you don’t really know if you will win or not. There are so many different factors that go into it, like how the other teams are going to perform and how they do their Spontaneous. You just don’t know,” said North Penn Senior Harr.