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Portland elementary school Odyssey of the Mind team's next challenge: $9K

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Portland elementary school Odyssey of the Mind team's next challenge: $9K

PORTLAND — An Odyssey of the Mind team from Lyseth Elementary School will travel to the world finals at Michigan State University in May, if it can raise $9,000.

The seven-student team competed in the state competition on April 6 in Sanford and hopes to join several other teams from across the state in Michigan May 22-25.

"It's a worldwide competition about teamwork, creativity and problem solving," Melanie Desjardins, one of the team's coaches, said.

Desjardins said that in each competition teams must work together to solve two problems: one long-term, where they work throughout their season on a problem, and another short-term, with only five minutes to provide an answer.

In order to travel to the world finals, however, the team must reach a lofty fundraising goal of $9,000.

Desjardins said the team has already been promised $3,000 in donations from businesses including Idexx, Cumberland County Credit Union and the Lyseth Parent Teacher Association, among others.

To raise the remaining $6,000 the team is hosting a 50/50 raffle and will do a bottle drive in the school's North Deering neighborhood.

The bottle drive will take place throughout the day on Saturday, April 20, but the team will take donations after that date to ensure that all of the students can go on the trip.

"The families have decided that if we don't come up the full amount of money by (the date of the trip) they can front it, but it is not something that many of the families can afford to do," Desjardins  said.

She said there are also other ways that the community can get involved in helping the team make the trip to Michigan State.

The team is using a GoFundMe page to receive donations at gofundme.com/2k4py8, but people may also send checks, payable to Lyseth OM, to Lyseth Elementary School, 175 Auburn St., Portland, ME 04103. Desjardin also said the team would be willing to pick up checks at people's houses, if necessary.

Desjardin said since she began working with the team two years ago, there has been tremendous growth in membership and it has been fascinating to see the kids take on new challenges with each competition.

"The kids are very proud they did all of this themselves and we appreciate any support that we can get. Big, small or in between," she said.

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.