Last month I asked for your help in sending 13 Carteret borough and high school students to Iowa to compete at the Odyssey Of The Mind finals at Iowa State University at Ames.

Carteret High School on Google Maps
Carteret High School on Google Maps
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These young men and women, all of whom are either first-generation Americans or foreign-born, went to demonstrate their skills in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) on an international level. So how did it go?

I received an email from 8th grade science teacher Nicole Gonzales who writes:

"We would like to share some great news from our Odyssey of the Mind teams. This past weekend they competed in Odyssey of the Mind World Finals hosted by Iowa State University. Both teams placed 17th in the WORLD, making them the highest placed New Jersey teams in their problems and divisions! Our teams would like to thank everyone that helped them get there. They worked really hard this past year, but without your help, they wouldn’t have gotten this far! SO, THANK YOU!!! 😊🎉😊"

How about that!

Gonzales joined me on New Jersey 101.5, which you can hear here, and her students answered the following questions for me via email.

What was Iowa like?
"It was a great experience, I love the fact that I got to experience living on campus for almost a week".

The middle school team and Dr. Sam, the founder of Odyssey of the mind.
The middle school team and Dr. Sam, the founder of Odyssey of the mind.
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How was the food? What did you guys eat there?
"Since we were dorming at the dorms at Iowa State, we were eating at their lunch cafeterias. The food was awesome. We had a lot of choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including deserts."

Carteret High School's Odyssey of the Mind" team
Carteret High School's Odyssey of the Mind" team
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What was the atmosphere like? Were you guys nervous?
"The first day we got there the atmosphere was just happy, everyone was excited for what was coming. Of course, we were nervous, it all started the night before our performances. I personally started freaking out. Just by looking at other people's props and all of the great ideas already made me nervous. But At the end of the day we went there to represent our Carteret High School and New Jersey OOTM in the best way possible".

Carteret Middle School's Odyssey of the Mind" team
Carteret Middle School's Odyssey of the Mind" team
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What was your reaction when you placed 17th?
" As a competitive team, I think all of us hoped to place higher. We were happy about our placement. At the end of the day we placed 17th in the WORLD, and in addition, we placed the highest among all of the New Jersey teams competing in our problem and division. That is a great accomplishment".

High school team with some NJ members
High school team with some NJ members
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Anything else you'd like to add?
"I would just like to say that OOTM changed my life. It is not just any program out there. It is truly one big family. People you never met before but who think the same as you but at the same time are so different with different creative minds. This was my second time attending OOTM World Finals and I can't wait for many more. As a junior in high school I am looking forward to coming back strong next year to make our team, school and New Jersey proud for the last time competing as a Rambler. I would like to say that everyone interested in odyssey should definitely try it out. It is ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE.

Congratulations to all!

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.

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