MANCHESTER - Elementary and middle school students from Manchester and Dorset traveled to Hinesburg two weekends ago to compete in the statewide Odyssey of the Mind Tournament held at the Champlain Valley Union High School.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college.

Teams prepare for several months prior to the competition with the support of an adult coach who can only encourage the team as they create an 8-minute performance entirely by themselves from scratch, based on a problem provided by Odyssey of the Mind.

Two of the teams, one at the elementary level and one at the middle school level tackled a solution to the problem "ARTchitecture: The Musical." Both of the teams won second place for their efforts and are eligible to compete at the World Finals competition in May. The teams had to create and present an original performance that includes a replica of a documented architectural structure that was built between 1,000 AD and 1,600 AD.

The performance also had to include three works of art that "disappear" and two characters that go on a quest to find them. When the works of art are found, they had to be incorporated into the replica. The performance must include two songs that are accompanied by some type of choreographed movement.

The second place elementary team was coached by Margi Putney and included Mia and Zoe Grigsby, Carson Cutler, Teddy Mirenda, Henry Putney, Sophie Jager and Alair Powers.

The second place middle school team was coached by Judy Wachala and Lisa Madeira. Team members included, Matthew Madeira, Tyler Jager, Riley Vogel, Jay Wachala, Clare Reid, Katie Liell and Cory Mack.

The other elementary level team was coached by Katy McNabb and they took on the problem "It's How You Look at It." The problem was to create and present an original humorous performance that includes two characters that act naturally - to them - but odd to those around them. One scene had to establish the "normal" behavior of one character that, at some point in the performance, finds itself among others who react to the out-of-place behavior. The other character's behavior had to stand out too, but this character will end up in a setting where its odd behavior is considered normal. The performance included a meter that indicates the degree of odd/normal behavior and a creative scene change.

McNabb's team tied for 5th in the long term problem and came in second in the "Spontaneous" portion of the competition. Team members included Arden Wojtach, Erin Norton, Nate Schmidt, Kendall Dorsey, Erik Vandermark, Avery Benson-Schatz and Emma Egbert.

Odyssey of the Mind's World Finals tournament will be held May 22-25 at Michigan State University and no decision whether to attend by the second place teams have been made to date.