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May 17, 2005 > Four Fremont teams competing in OM World Finals

Four Fremont teams competing in OM World Finals

by Gary Leatherman

Four Fremont Unified School District teams have qualified for the 2005 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, an international problem-solving competition for students in grades K-12. The world competition will be May 21 to 25 at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Two teams from Mission San Jose High School and one from Mission San Jose Elementary School earned a trip to the finals by taking first place in their respective divisions at the California Odyssey of the Mind Association state finals on April 9 in Visalia. The Hopkins Junior High School team earned a spot by winning the Ranatra Fusca Creativity Award at the California contest. The Fusca award is considered the highest honor in the OM program and is given only to teams who demonstrate exceptional creativity.

The program is organized and coached by volunteers. Nine teams of five to seven students each from four FUSD schools participated in the program this year, including Gomes Elementary School as well as the three schools above.

One MSJHS team solved a long-term problem titled Crazy Columns, for which the team was required to build a structure entirely of balsa wood and glue that rested on three surfaces at different heights. It was then tested for its ability to balance and support as much weight as possible. The structure supported 785 pounds without breaking. Contest organizers said the structure would have held more but they ran out of weights.

Teams also were required to present skits related to their problems. The MSJHS skit was about the crushing combined weight of peer pressure, academic pressure and parental pressure that high school students experience while trying to make the right life choices. Their whimsical and colorful characters, costumes and props brought a serious subject to life in a creative way.

Another seven-member team at MSJHS solved the long-term problem titled In Your Dreams. They performed a dream that involved a main character called Bacterium Boy inside a human body who defeats a virus monster by fighting and dancing with it.

The MSJHS team members are Tiffany Chan, Ronald Chang, Daniel Culp, Bryan Han, Jeffrey Han, Rita Lu, Eric Tong, Rebecca Chen, Wayne Chen, Philip Jeng, Alan Kuo, Andy Lau, Aimee Zhang, Bonnie Zhang. The coaches are Barbara Han, Jack Lau and Ching-Lih Jan.

The Mission San Jose Elementary team also solved the In Your Dreams problem. Their performance involved a camping trip. The dream sequence included an array of sound effects, original musical pieces, dancing and singing trees, and a fearsome monster that turned into a dancing fairy.

The MSJE team members are Nihar Parikh, Rohan Chandra, Rohit Bose, Hannah Gorelik, William Kim, Polly Ma and Shray Bansal. Their coaches are Nikita Parikh, Tony Ma, and Irina Gorelik.

The Hopkins Junior High team solved a problem titled Stunt Mobiles. They designed, stunt vehicles to race on several obstacle courses, operate on different power systems and break balloons along the way. The theme of their skit was a game show. Their creativity and engineering expertise earned them the Fusca award.

The Hopkins team members are Ankur Dhar, Jessica Jew, Alex Krishnan, Samuel Mak, Jeanette Su and Amanda Tam. Their coaches are Barbara and Kal Krishnan.

In addition to the long-term problem solution, OM teams also are judged on style and their solution to a spontaneous problem presented at the competition.

The OM World Finals include 800 teams from 21 countries. Teams will be designated World Champions of Creative Problem Solving in 15 categories and divisions.

OM Coach Barbara Krishman said, "As a coach of Odyssey of the Mind teams for several years, I have watched these kids grow in many ways. They learn so much about themselves, what they can do - so much more than they think they can, how they can work together as a group to create something beyond a single person's imagination. I am proud of them and can't wait to see them conquer the World."

More information about the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals is available on line at or contact Barbara Krishnan at or call (510) 770-0683.

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