Truckee High Odyssey of the Mind team heading to state |

Truckee High Odyssey of the Mind team heading to state

Truckee High School's Odyssey of the Mind team members are all smiles after receiving their first place ribbons. From left are Adrienne Parker, Avery Fournier, Madeleine Almond, Robbie Radzville, Cassandra Almond and Megan Burrill.
Courtesy Jean Fournier |

Truckee High School’s Odyssey of the Mind team earned first place in their division at the Capitol Gold Region tournament held on March 5 at Natomas High School in Sacramento.

Their stellar performance advanced them to the California state level tournament in April held at U.C. Riverside.

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational creative problem solving program based on the idea that creativity can be taught.

The program provides problem solving opportunities for students in kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics.

Each year the five categories of these long term problems are Vehicle, Technical, Classics, Structure and Performance. Students select one of these problems in September and spend over five months creating a unique solution which is presented in an eight-minute performance at the tournament.

Team members come up with all of the ideas for their solution themselves, and although they have a coach, the students do all the work and can not have any “outside assistance” from any adults.

The THS team this year solved a Vehicle Problem that required them to design, build and drive a vehicle that traveled between two different team-created ecosystems, picked up items to be repurposed and drop them off elsewhere on stage.

The vehicle was not allowed to be propelled by any form of peddling and had to carry two team members. After many designs and models, the THS team created a vehicle that was propelled by a lever that connected a pair of used bicycle freewheel clusters and engaged a chain to turn gears that in turn moved the vehicle’s rear axle.

Truckee High School’s team included Cassandra Almond, Madeliene Almond, Megan Burrill, Avery Fournier, Adrienne Parker and Robbie Radzville and was coached by Jean Fournier.

The team is grateful for the donation they received from Mountain Hardware and Sports that helped them stay under their required budget.

Each Odyssey of the Mind problem has strict rules and guidelines that if not followed carefully result in penalty points against the team’s score at tournament. Truckee High’s team was the only team out of 18 solving the Vehicle Problem that received zero penalty points.

North Tahoe School also sent a team of students to the Capitol Gold Region tournament. They solved the Structure Problem this year which required the team to design, build and test a lightweight (less than 15 grams) structure, made only of balsa wood and glue that would balance and support as much weight as possible.

During their eight-minute performance they were required to stack weights atop their balsa structure, remove weights and then stack more weights. They integrated all this together by cleverly acting as magicians for their theme.

They also created a unique device to meet the requirement of creating a sound effect for use during their solution. The dedicated team from NTS placed third in their division. The 2016 N.T.S. team members were Walker Viehmann, Alex Twomey, Grace Smith, Kaiden Siig and Nicole Strange. Their coaches were Terri Viehmann, Brett Smith and Alex Twomey.

Another unique aspect of OOTM is that it is run entirely by volunteers. For more information about Odyssey of the Mind for TTUSD students, or becoming a volunteer coach, contact Jean Fournier at

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