Former Randall Middle School students Findlay Hartman, Blake Bole, Kaylee Matteis, Kayla Purifoy, Bradley Carlson and Leela Walbolt participated in the Odyssey of the Mind World Championship in late May and brought home fourth place in the world.

The Randall Middle School Odyssey of the Mind team has a lot to celebrate this month. The group, which consists of six former eighth grade students, participated in the Odyssey of the Mind World Championships in May against 800 teams, placing second of all the groups from the United States and fourth of all the teams in the world.

According to Co-Coach Erin Hartman, Odyssey of the Mind events are creative problem solving competitions made up of two parts: Long Term Problem and Spontaneous Problem.

“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.”

Teams from around the world, including China, Japan, Poland and German attended the championships at Michigan State University in late May. A group from Georgia came in first place and teams from Singapore and Hong Kong took second and third.

The Randall group, made up of students Findlay Hartman, Blake Bole, Kaylee Matteis, Kayla Purifoy, Bradley Carlson and Leela Walbolt, has been working together and winning awards since the students were in fifth grade at FishHawk Creek Elementary School.

Hartman explained that for the Long Term category, students are given a choice between five different problems in advance and work for months on the solution, which must be presented in an eight-minute play. There are multiple creative aspects that have to be included in the solution, from building and programming a robot creature to working on a budget of $145 for all parts of the play, including costumes and set.

“Some of the highlights for the students included staying in the dorms at Michigan State, meeting their buddy team from Germany and pin trading with other teams from around the world,” said Hartman, who wanted to sincerely thank everyone who supported the group in their fundraising for the trip, including HATCH, Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White and Hillsborough County School Board member Melissa Snively.

All six of the students are moving on to Newsome High School, where they plan to start a team.

Randall is located at 16510 FishHawk Blvd. in Lithia and can be reached at 740-3900.

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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.