Adjunct Faculty Member Coaching Finals-Bound OM Team

Denise A. Southard (standing in back) and her husband, Bret, pose with some of their Odyssey of the Mind mentees.

After capturing first in both regional and state competitions, the Curtin crew heads to OM World Finals.

A Penn College adjunct math faculty member and her team of fourth- and fifth-graders from Curtin Intermediate School are headed to the 2017 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals at Michigan State University this week. Denise A. Southard and her husband, Bret, coach the team of Williamsport youngsters that captured first place in Division I regional and state competitions with their problem, “A Superhero Cliffhanger.” “While there isn’t a direct connection to math, the students are required to build their props,” Denise said. “Their main prop is a storybook made from wood. They had to measure and cut all the wood in the construction of the book. The finished prop is a 5-foot-high book with seven ‘pages.’” The Southards started coaching OM when their daughters were in elementary school. (Their oldest daughter made it to the World Finals once, and their youngest achieved the honor twice.) Although their girls are older and no longer in OM, the couple continues to love being active in the program. “Ultimately, we both love the confidence it gives the students,” Denise said. “We have seen students, who were so shy they could barely talk to other team members, become stars on the stage! They learn how to think ‘outside the box,’ problem-solve and use power tools!” (EDITOR’S NOTE: The team finished 22nd in its division at “Worlds.”)
Photos provided

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