Lutz's Team Duct Tape to share final Odyssey of the Mind experience

Lutz Elementary fifth-graders Jonathan Strickland, back row, from left, Wilson Morse, McCrea Weller and Chris Hancock, and front row, Kelsey Sissel, Leigh Dittman and Cate Hancock will compete this weekend at Odyssey of the Mind in Orlando.

MARLENE SOKOL | Times

Lutz Elementary fifth-graders Jonathan Strickland, back row, from left, Wilson Morse, McCrea Weller and Chris Hancock, and front row, Kelsey Sissel, Leigh Dittman and Cate Hancock will compete this weekend at Odyssey of the Mind in Orlando.

LUTZ

They haven't really considered what life will be like once middle school starts and they go their separate ways.

For now, their focus is on this Saturday's tournament.

Seven children from Lutz Elementary School will be in Orlando, competing as one of several local teams in Odyssey of the Mind. They're joined by other groups from what the organization calls "Buccaneer Bay." They include squads from Buckhorn Elementary School, Progress Village Middle Magnet and Bloomingdale High.

The Lutz kids have been together since second grade, which works out to roughly a third of their lives.

They know what to expect from one another. They know which kids perform and which ones handle things behind the scenes, who writes the script and who does the research.

"I like doing the art and making the props," said Cate Hancock, 10, whose twin brother, Chris, is on the team as well.

They call themselves Team Duct Tape because, well, "We use a lot of duct tape," said Leigh Dittman, 10. "No matter how long it takes us, it always comes together."

Now more than 25 years old, the international Odyssey program has less to do with science than you might think.

It's more about teamwork and creativity.

For the long-term projects, kids build things using inexpensive materials — you get extra credit if something is recycled. For the spontaneous part of the contest, "they give you a problem and you have to solve it," said Wilson Morse, 11.

For example, and I took this from the 2009 website (students are absolutely not allowed to discuss assignments in advance), teams might have to write and stage a play about Hercules. Or design and build a small vehicle that will visit four places, changing in appearance at each stop.

Adult participation is also forbidden, with parents and teachers acting strictly as chaperones.

Practices, led by teachers Judy Alvarez and Terri Burgess, happen on Wednesday afternoons and sometimes on weekends. There are workshops the kids can attend as well.

Funding has come from the Lutz-Land O'Lakes Women's Club.

Team Duct Tape's trip to the state competition this weekend will be their second. If they win, they'll move on to an international competition in Maryland.

• • •

As statewide competitions go, last weekend was good to several Hillsborough high school color guard groups.

Gaither High School and Bloomingdale High School took first place in their respective Scholastic AA divisions of the Florida Federation of Color Guards. Durant High finished second behind Gaither, with Sickles High trailing Bloomingdale.

In the AAA Scholastic division, Spoto High took first place. Top Class B awards went to East Bay, Wharton and Brandon.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at 226-3356 or sokol@sptimes.com.

Lutz's Team Duct Tape to share final Odyssey of the Mind experience 04/07/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 7, 2011 5:30am]

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