Magnolia School offers the Advanced Studies Program for gifted students in grades 7 and 8. The Program focuses on participation in the Odyssey of the Mind competition. Odyssey of the Mind requires a team of 5-7 students to develop a solution in the most unique way it can to a problem posed by the international organization. These problems require the students to work together closely and intensely, using the information and skills they have learned in the classroom, including considerable research in various curricular areas: art, writing, drama, history, and engineering, to name a few. The solution process, from inception to completion, takes months. The students develop all of the ideas and do all of the work themselves. The role of the teacher is as a mentor. In addition, the team practices spontaneous problem-solving, which is required during competition, where they must not only present a prepared solution, but develop a solution to a problem that is posed to them on the spot. Further information is available at www.odysseyofthemind.com.
Michele Uppman, the Advanced Studies teacher, continues coaching Odyssey of the Mind at Bear River High School. Thus, the students can participate in this unique learning environment for six years. Their growth can be awesome and inspiring.
The students gain invaluable skills that will better prepare them to become future problem-solvers and leaders. For example, a former student was an engineering student at the University of California Berkeley. He felt his years of experience problem solving through Odyssey of the Mind made him much better prepared than his peers in the field of engineering. He is currently employed by NASA, with one of his latest accomplishments being the designer of the wheels for the Mars Rover project. He says that his current work is a magnified Odyssey of the Mind endeavor!
The students have gained an outstanding regional, state and global reputation for their achievements in the rigorous Odyssey of the Mind competitions. Teams have consistently won the State Finals since they first started participating in 1986, and often place in the top three at the World Finals, competing against over 60 winners of other states and foreign countries. They have achieved the incredible first place honor 12 times in the last 10 years.
Advanced Studies not only offers a challenging and enriching program for the students; but it also provides a social milieu for them, in which they can interact with peers who have similar interests, curiosities and thought processes. Parents, too, can be involved in the program, and so find an avenue for meaningful interaction with their child and with other parents who are facing similar issues in raising a gifted child.
To participate in Advanced Studies, students must successfully complete a rigorous selection process, which includes an intelligence test, teacher and parent evaluations, a written application and an oral interview. Students are selected to enter the process based upon high test scores on the standardized achievement test (STAR), teacher recommendation or participation in a gifted program in another school district. However, students or their parents may also request to be screened.
Michele Uppman received her Bachelor of Arts in English and her Master of Arts in Education from Stanford University. She began teaching English and Drama in Pleasant Ridge Union School District in 1979. Three years later, Ms. Uppman created the Advanced Studies Program, which she has been teaching with great joy ever since.
Michele Uppman is one of the most prolific and successful coaches in the history of Odyssey of the Mind. She has received recognition from the California Odyssey of the Mind organization for her years of dedication to the creative problem-solving process. She also was the District Teacher of the Year in 2000.0.
Barbara Johnson - 7th-8th Grade Odyssey of the Mind Spontaneous Teacher
Barbara Johnson has a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary School Education and a Master of Arts in Gifted and Talented Education. She taught the 4th and 5th grade Advanced Studies Program (now non-existent) for 24 years, and continues to do spontaneous practice with the 7th and 8th graders. She is recognized as one of the spontaneous gurus of the California Odyssey of the Mind organization.