The Randall Middle School Odyssey of the Mind team made the area proud at the world competition at Iowa State University in May, 2018.

The group competed with 830 schools from around the world and placed 11th out of 69 middle schools in their division, including teams from Hong Kong, Poland, China, Singapore and British Columbia.

The same team is already working to compete again this year with their eyes set on the world competition. Their first step is a regional contest at Bloomingdale High School in March. If they place first or second there, they will move on to the State of Florida competition which will be held at the University of Central Florida. A first or second place win at the state level will allow them another chance at the world stage.

Original Story printed in May, 2018.

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 For information, email Hartman at

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Kate Quesada
Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.