Trailside students gear up for Odyssey of the Mind |

Trailside students gear up for Odyssey of the Mind

Megan Yeiter , The Park Record

Trailside Elementary School students have rallied to form several Odyssey of the Mind teams, an international education opportunity for children from kindergarten through college, according to Trailside Elementary School "OohMotional Vehicle" coach Katy Dunn. The school has 27 students and almost four complete teams that will participate in the state competition this year.

Dunn said Park City schools are just re-entering the program this year and because Trailside has so many teams competing, the school will host the state competition on April 21. Teams will solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics and performing skits.

"It’s a big deal. We have half the teams competing in the competition coming from Trailside," Dunn said, adding that they are trying to get more schools and teams involved for next year. She said Trailside Principal Kathy Einhorn agreed to support the pilot program.

Dunn and her husband are coaching their daughters’ teams. They said the girls are learning how to be creative and work in a group.

"Besides just having to tap into creativity, they have to learn how to work well with other group members. If you tend to have more of a dominant personality you get your wings clipped a little bit, and if you happen to be a little withdrawn, the other students are like ‘It has to be even, we need you,’" she said.

The most time-consuming category is the long-term problem, which students begin working on as soon as they form a team in November, according to Odyssey of the Mind Park City Coordinator Jenny Zachry, who said her team "Weird Science" is working on an expedition to uncover the cause of mysterious events. The long-term problem is nationally sponsored by NASA.

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"The team will select the location of the expedition from NASA Earth Observatory Photographs and they will collect two samples and will report on their findings," Zachry said. "Each problem has a cost limit of about $145. We are going to take a trip to the recycling center with the kids so they can see how to re-use things."

One of Zachry’s goals is to train parents this year so they can be coaches next year. There are two coaches per team with each team meeting at the same time every week so Zachry can answer questions. She said one thing the students have learned this season is how to work together and communicate.

"I’ve been doing this since 1994, but in all my years doing it, there is always that shy kid who isn’t used to speaking up and it’s really a program that allows those students to come out of their shells," she said.

The Odyssey of the Mind national membership fee is $135, which can sponsor up to six teams, plus unlimited primary teams, which is kindergarten through 2th-graders. Zachry said it gets expensive when the students make it to world finals, which will be held at Iowa State University this year.

"The teams that go to world finals do a lot of fundraising. We will more than likely have a few teams in world finals," she said, adding that about 15,000 students, chaperones and judges will attend the event.

Other Trailside Elementary School teams, include "Odyssey Angels" with team members in first through fourth grades, and "You Make the Call," consisting of fourth graders.

To find out more about the Odyssey of the Mind program visit or contact Jenny Zachry at . For more information regarding the state competition at Trailside Elementary School call (435) 645-5680.