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Roton Kids Embark on an Odyssey

Four eighth-graders pulled off a disappearing card trick Friday, and their hands stayed visible the whole time. Roton Middle School students Connor O'Brien and Tom Skipper said the stunt -- the finale of a skit they will perform again Saturday, March 26, in Bristol – was made possible by saving paint for months.

The middle schoolers are competing in the 30th annual Connecticut Odyssey of the Mind . To prepare, they held a dress rehearsal Friday afternoon for their parents. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders made everyone smile and laugh as they performed vignettes they had written themselves in response to themes provided for the competition.

That included "Le Tour Guide," in which sixth-graders explored Global Warming, and "As Good as Goldberg," in which seventh-graders used a Western theme. One skit included a "Lady Wawa."

Given the challenge of presenting "Extreme Mouse Mobiles" in a humorous way, the eighth-graders dressed themselves up as cards. Building "vehicles that use mousetraps as their only source of energy" was tough, said Matt Allen and Finn Maloney. They began in October and succeeded through trial and error.

Matt, the emcee, acted the part of a Card Shark, with a fin on his back made from playing cards. As he fired off the vehicles one by one, four students, dressed as giant cards, reacted. At the end, the four eighth-graders turned around to reveal card backs that matched the background they were standing in front of.

Voilà, a disappearing card trick.

"We were always kind of playing around with the idea of coming together to make one whole," Tom said. "I guess we came onto the idea of cards and then we thought, 'Camouflaging.' Really, our inspiration is from the movie 'Pink Panther.' "

Connor said they made the background 4½ months ago and saved the paint so the card backs would match.

Their teacher, Jody Bishop Pullan, said the school participates in Odyssey of the Mind every year. "The kids have to do all the work themselves," she said. "They come up with the ideas, they write the script, they make the devices."

Do you know kids going to Odyssey of the Mind? Comment below.

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