Odyssey of the Mind World Champs

(Susan Jordan, Photographer)
Team members (left to right): Sophia Kan, Isaac Reader-Taatjes, Santiago Jordan, Diego Aguilar and Lauren Angsupanich.

    An Orinda Odyssey of the Mind team took home the highest honor by winning the 2020 World Finals, held online this year due to the pandemic. 
    The champions are a team from Orinda Intermediate School consisting of 8th graders Diego Aguilar, Santiago Jordan, Isaac Reader-Taatjes and 7th graders Lauren Angsupanich and Sophia Kan.
    This team took on the vehicle challenge “Longshot Solution” in Division II, which consisted of 52 teams from around the United States and the world. The problem, sponsored by Arm & Hammer, required the construction of three autonomous vehicles of differentiated designs to send materials (including Arm & Hammer baking soda) to a reaction area to create a reaction that will save the world from a disastrous event.
    Along the way, the vehicles have to overcome obstacles and the hero characters must overcome and gain the respect of those who don’t believe in their ability to save the world.
    The team’s presentation of their solution centers on the story of the world being threatened by the increasing level of acid released by the villain Acidio. While Pepto and Bismol think they already have a handle on the world’s acid problem, the longshot heroes – Flour and Power – must convince Pepto and Bismol that they need to further reduce the world’s use of acid in baking by using Arm & Hammer baking soda instead of baking powder (which contains acid).
    The team put together a humorous and entertaining presentation that included singing, rapping and dancing interspersed between their vehicle runs. In addition to an original “Baking Soda” rap, the team also created eye-catching costumes and set pieces with paint-injected bubble wraps, shredded CD glitter, lighted Jell-O cups and hand-cut duct tape flames.
    Since 1978 Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem-solving program that aims to engage students by allowing their knowledge and ideas to come to life. The program promotes creativity by challenging teams to solve divergent problems with more than one solution.
    The teams bring their solutions to competition on the local, state and world level. The solutions are presented in a live performance. Thousands of teams from all over the globe select and solve the same problem but no two solutions are ever the same.
    All Orinda teams are coached by parent volunteers but the solutions are created by team members without the help of others, which is a key component of the competition.

Susan Jordan is a Contributing Writer

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