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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Local group does well in world competition

  • When Morgen Hatton started his freshman year of college at Bloomsburg University, he never thought he would play a big role in helping his club participate in the world competition, which took place at Michigan State University.
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  • -When Morgen Hatton started his freshman year of college at Bloomsburg University, he never thought he would play a big role in helping his club participate in the world competition, which took place at Michigan State University.
    Hatton, 19 and a resident of Honesdale, is the president of Bloomsburg's Odyssey of the Mind, a new club to the university.
    Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college.
    The teams solve problems that range from building "mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics." They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state and world level.
    The competition brings thousands of teams throughout the U.S. and from 25 other countries participate in the program.
    Each year, "five new competitive problems" are presented for the teams to solve. These long-term problems are "solved over weeks and months." Some of the problems are more technical in nature, while others are artistic or performance based.
    NASA works with Odyssey of the Mind to provide the problems. Their goal is to help "young people find innovative ways to solve all types of problems, especially those that affect our global environment."
    NASA strives to inspire students to "gain a greater understanding" of the Earth's systems of air, land, water and life by offering resources that are "educational, enriching and exciting."
    Hatton is a business management major at Bloomsburg and was taking one of his intro to business courses when his professor and advisor of the club, Chaza Abdul, spoke to him about joining during his second semester. Shortly after, he was given the role of president.
    "I didn't know what to expect at first," he said. "It was a lot of work but a great experience."
    That hard work included fundraising to be able to go.
    "We wanted to plant our seed and start getting the experience," Hatton said.
    He added that he later spoke to the university's provost and asked for help and they helped fund the club.
    The team won regionals and got sixth place at nationals, then it was time to prepare for worlds. The university sent two teams to the world competition.
    Hatton explained that teams from each state and country could be distinguished by what they wore.
    "There were different hats and colors for each area and part of the world," he said.
    Pennsylvania wore wizard hats and purple shirts.
    The different problems were solved over the course of a week and the finals were on May 22.
    "One is solving a problem through performing," Hatton said. "We have to get the props, scripts, tools, etcetera on our own and we are judged on certain things."
    Page 2 of 3 - He said there is a long-term problem called spontaneous that gives the teams a certain amount of time to solve, with rules and guidelines to follow. They have one minute to think it through and then they have six minutes to make as many solutions as possible.
    The team Hatton was on did "It's How You Look at It," where they solved the problem by creating a scenario to show normal behavior of college students procrastinating, in which the behavior would be odd to others in the magic world.
    Throughout the performance, the team used their "creative meter" to measure every normal and odd behaviors.
    "We had to have at least two characters, one of which was a main character," Hatton said. "The one who showed the 'normal' behavior in the beginning would show 'odd' behavior later and the one who showed 'odd' behavior in the beginning wold show 'normal' later."
    He added that the team had to make their own back drops, the lights, things that spin, things that make noise, etc.
    The second team did
    "Tumble Wood," where they would build a structure made only out of Palsa wood and glue. The structure weight was to remain under 15 grams and be able to hold as maximum weight as possible.
    The team was required to incorporate a commercial about an item of their choice and build props that are geared toward enhancing their business of selling a magic lamp.
    "All the hard work feels worth it, especially getting to go to worlds," Hatton said. "It's unbelievable. I never thought I'd get to do something like this."
    Hatton's team came in fifth place.
    "This is the first year we did this and I'm really proud of my team for even placing at all," he said. "Now we understand it better and know what to focus our time on for next time. I have high hopes for the upcoming semester."
    Hatton also said that during the competition each area had a different pin and they could trade with other people. Those pins change from year to year.
    "It was a cool experience getting to talk to people from other places," he said. "Everything was a learning experience."
    He said the teams did as much as they could to go to worlds and nobody ever gave up.
    "It's a brilliant group," Hatton said. "We work with members who are from other cultures and that's great too. It was our goal to go to worlds and we got it done. It feels great. I'm at a loss for words."
    He added that there's "always a solution" and they "worked as a team" to figure it out.
    Page 3 of 3 - "There's nothing we couldn't do as long as we put our mind to it," Hatton said. "I'm passionate about this program. No matter what it is, if you have a goal you can do it. I'm not perfect but I had a group of people who also wanted to get something done and we did it. This was a life changing experience."
    Hatton didn't know where to begin when it comes to those who helped.
    "There are a lot of people who helped make this work," he said. "I want to thank everyone who helped in any way."
    He added that he's very proud of the teams.
    "I have high hopes for us," Hatton said. "It's more than just a club. Teamwork is one of the biggest learning aspects. Everyone has a hidden talent that we have to find. I like helping others find their potential. They do this because they want to better themselves."

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