Palmetto Bay

Palmetto Bay

Howard Drive Elementary earns first place in Odyssey of the Mind competition

When the Howard Drive Elementary school team had to solve a problem, they chose to recast the popular fable, Three Little Pigs.

The team of seven students — primarily fifth graders — cast the wolf, the bad guy, as the good-hearted hero who was determined to save the pigs, sheep and baby chick instead of preying on them.

Their rendition earned them first place in the 2014 Odyssey of the Mind, a critical thinking and problem-solving competition that involves students from across the country and around the world. Last year, the team won fourth place.

“We thought about how we could do this thing where instead of a big bad wolf, he’s good. We thought of stories where the wolf is bad and we chose the Three Little Pigs,” says Alex Eum, who played the wolf.

The competition centered on an exercise called the Driver’s Test. Students had to build a vehicle and drive it while while picking up objects. The competition called for incorporating recycled materials into their presentation.

The team built a catapult out of an old softball to launch a hairball into the air. They designed the vehicle to look like a wolf, making it out of wood and covering it with dryer lint to represent the wolf’s fur. They used plastic bottles to make the flowers and plants to represent the woods.

“The kids chose to pick up and move a baby chick made out of an old bar stool. Sheep and pig costumes were made of recycled materials,” said coach Milton Todd.

The students met weekly since last September. They created a story line, script, songs, choreography, props, costumes and the wolf vehicle.

Along the way, they had some setbacks. In late October, Kennedy Todd, daughter of the coaches and a fifth-grader at the school, was discovered to have a bone cyst that caused her leg to break and required emergency surgery.

“In November and December it was rough because we were focused on her recovery,” says Todd. “But, we decided to continue and Kennedy was better by January and able to compete.”

The team chose Alex as the wolf’s voice and Matthew Lamas, another fifth grader, as the car operator.

“It was interesting and a little stressful, but once I got on stage I went with the flow and I had fun while doing it,” Matthew said.

In February, the team won the tournament at Miami Springs High School for Division 1, advancing to the State Finals on April 12 at the University of Central Florida. Placing first in state, the team earned their ticket to the World Finals at Iowa State University, a four-day tournament with about 800 teams competing.

During the finals, there is one tradition that all the students look forward to — pin trading. Each state or country has pins that represent their problem. The most sought-after pin was the Starbucks cup. Thousands of kids came together and began trading.

“It was kind of like trying new foods, you never know what you’re going to get,” Matthew said.

Matthew had his eyes set on the pin from North Carolina called The Dragons; he won it the first day.

After performing their presentation and feeling confident, the team participated in another finals tradition: Destroying their props, since it was too expensive to ship them back home. Miami-Dade County’s District 9 School Board member Larry Feldman joined the team at the award ceremony.

“At the ceremony they finally called our school as first-place winners and the 2014 World Champions,” says Lorenzo Vinueza, a third-grader at the school. “I was so excited.”

Lorenzo was the youngest member of the team and competed for the first time with his sister, Sofia, a fifth-grader. Lorenzo took the spot of another student who had dropped out.

“What’s special about our kids is that they are energetic,” said Todd. “They really turn it on when they get on stage and have fun while performing.”

Read more Palmetto Bay stories from the Miami Herald

  • Palmetto Bay

    Despite losing appeal, Palmetto Bay official continues fight against environmental suit

    Palmetto Bay Vice-Mayor John DuBois continues to fight a county lawsuit against him, ongoing since September 2012, which alleges he illegally trimmed mangroves and filled wetlands on his 8-acre bay-front property.

  • Soapbox

    Letter: South Miami mayor is a mosquito-control novice

    It was reassuring to learn in Soapbox (Mosquito spraying can have negative consequences, Aug. 17) that South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, a professor of biology at Florida International University, has discovered what most residents of his city knew decades ago – that mosquitoes breed in standing water, including the contents of bromeliads. But it wasn’t reassuring to learn that Stoddard apparently now feels qualified to advise the rest of us about his belated discovery – and to impose on all his neighbors his own conclusions about the impact of mosquito spraying in this region. If Stoddard had lived here during the weeks after Hurricane Andrew, he might have acquired a greater understanding of how far the quality of human life can deteriorate in a former swamp when mosquito spraying is suspended even temporarily.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">IN HONOR OF THE LITTLE WARRIOR:</span> Briana Vega, a 12-year-old student at Westminster Christian School, lost her battle to acute myeloid leukemia in February. Students and educators from Westminster have teamed up with the Live Like Bella Foundation and created a fishing tournament at Shake-A-Leg Miami in Coconut Grove to raise funds for research in AML.


    Fishing tournament to raise money for leukemia research

    Briana Vega, a 12-year-old student at Westminster Christian School in Palmetto Bay, lost her battle to acute myeloid leukemia in February, two years after being diagnosed with cancer.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK