PITTSBURG — A rubber band, straw, tissue, four toothpicks, a styrofoam cup and piece of paper. That’s all students were given to make the strongest object they could during Odyssey of the Mind at Lakeside Elementary.

Students in the Odyssey of the Mind program meet twice a week and do creative activities. Fourth grade teacher Ellen Goode brought Odyssey of the Mind to the school last year because of the positive experiences she had as a student with the international program.

“It’s fun and it’s an amazing experience for the kids and for me,” she said.

Last year, Goode had two teams go to the state competition and one qualify for the world competition. Lilly Hughes’ team went to the state competition, but did not qualify for the world event.

She is enthusiastic about making it this year — sort of.

“I’m going to try,” the fourth grader said.

“It’s fun and it’s a time I can spend time on my creativity,” she said.

This is first grader Ramon Gonzalez’s first year. He enjoys the team aspect and getting to do “fun stuff.”

Earlier this month, the Pittsburg school board approved spending just over $3,000 for materials, registrations and to compensate for Goode’s time. Goode said the group will also fundraise to supplement the costs.

Last year, the team relied on donations, grants and even money out of Goode’s pocket to get students to the state and world competition.

This year, 22 Lakeside students representing three teams will travel to the state competition. The competition is in Newton on April 8. If teams qualify, they will travel to Lansing, Michigan, for the world competition May 24 to May 27.

At each competition, teams will have to solve a spontaneous problem, like bonding the material together, and a longer prompt. Teams have already began to work on their prompt, which usually involves a problem-solving skit.

“Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem-solving program that engages students in their learning by allowing their knowledge and ideas to come to life in an exciting, productive environment … Today, there are associations all around the world serving thousands of schools participating in Odyssey of the Mind. Teams represent nearly every state in the US and approximately 25 other countries,” it says on the organization’s website, odysseyofthemind.com.

— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at mstavola@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.