Randall Middle School students Blake Bole, Kayla Purifoy, Bradley Carlson, Findlay Hartman, Leela Walbolt, John Annett and Kaylee Matteis are heading to the World Championship Odyssey of the Mind competition in Iowa this month.

Seven seventh grade students from Randall Middle School are heading to Iowa this month with an exciting task ahead of them. The students make up the school’s Odyssey of the Mind team and they recently won the state competition and a ticket to the world championships at Iowa State University from May 24-27.

The Randall students are the only group from Hillsborough County invited to the championships where they will compete against approximately 850 teams from around the world.

According to Co-coach Erin Hartman, Odyssey of the Mind events are creative problem solving competitions made up of two parts: Performance and the Spontaneous Round.

“During the Performance section, the students are given a problem to solve and the solution must be presented in an eight minute play,” said Hartman.

For example, during the state competition, the students were asked to build a vehicle that could travel forward and backward and they had to joust and curl while on the vehicle during the performance. Students are not allowed help from adults; they have a strict budget and must construct sets and costumes. They also write their own script for the play.

The Spontaneous Round involves the students solving a question or problem during a short time, typically four to eight minutes, and they are judged on creativity and quick thinking.

To prepare for the competitions, the team meets twice a week for months in advance.

“The competition encourages taking a different approach to a problem,” said Hartman. “Kids that love STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) would love Odyssey of the Mind.”

The team is working hard to raise almost $10,000 to fund the trip to Iowa for the world championships and would appreciate the community support with fundraising and donations.

“These kids have worked so hard for the past seven months,” said Hartman. “Last year we were not able to attend the world championship due to funding, but this year we told them if they could win again at states, we would take them all the way. They are extremely talented, competitive and super creative.”

To contribute, visit www.gofundme.com/hy2ece-odyssey-of-the-mind-world-finals. For information, email Hartman at erin@admechanics.com.