For over 3 decades Odyssey of the Mind has been enriching the academic, social and emotional lived of Monroe-Woodbury’s most creative minds. These students in grades 3-12 are referred to as “OMers” and are characterized as those kids able to…
SO what is this program all about?
Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity and critical thinking skills to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and World level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.
As others have said, what makes this program so unique is that it really is the kids' best effort - The “No Outside Assistance “ rule heavily stresses that every aspect of a solution must result from the work of the team alone. All brainstorming, building, painting, sewing, and fixing are to be done by the team.
Another important aspect of the program is the opportunity it gives students. Odyssey isn’t easy. The long season requires a positive attitude, hard work and a keen sense of humor. It requires kids of disparate age, ability and backgrounds to work together as a team.
The Odyssey of the Mind program was co-founded by Dr. C. Samuel Micklus and Dr. Theodore Gourley in 1978 at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in Glassboro, New Jersey. That first competition involved teams from 28 New Jersey schools. The program is now international, with teams from Belarus, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Siberia, Singapore, Slovakia, Togo, the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, and West Africa regularly competing in addition to teams from the United States.
How it is organized:
Odyssey of the Mind teams are divided into five divisions:
Primaries for children in K-2. Primaries do not actually compete against each other. They simply perform for the judges and participate in the program. They can choose to go to their state competition, but are not able to go past that to World.
Division I for students in grades K-5 for the U.S. teams and members less than 12 years of age for international teams.
Division II for grades 6-8 in the U.S. and members younger than 15 for international teams.
Division III for grades 9-12 in the U.S. and members who do not fall into the other divisions for international teams.
Division IV for collegiate groups and adults.
How it works:
It all starts with the Creative Problems. The teams need to attempt to achieve maximum scores in 3 different areas. Each area has a maximum point allowance. The scores the teams actually receive are later converted to calculated scores and only one team in each competition receives the maximum number.
The heart of the operation is the Long-Term Problem, which accounts for up to 200 points. For this 8 minute performance the teams have months to plan, prepare and perfect.
The Spirit of the competition often lies in the Style of the performance. Style is a component of long-term where teams are judged on specific elements of their skit. The pre-specified elements are related to the problem in some way and are typically visual. This category speaks to the aesthetic effect/artistic flair of the performance/solution and accounts for up to 50 points. Lastly, the brains of the competition, each team must participate in an impromptu performance referred to as “Spontaneous” which is awarded up to 50 points. As the name suggests, teams do not know ahead of time the topic they are to compete in. Upon competition, individual teams will enter a room of judges and will be presented with one of three problem types: Verbal, Hands-on, or a combo of both.
In Verbal problems, teams are usually given a minute to think and then two to three minutes to respond to a theme such as “make a rhyme using a name or species of an animal". Teams will then be graded based on the creativity of their individual responses. Verbal problems encourage individuals to incorporate their knowledge of history, science, literature, and popular culture.
Hands-on problems focus on teamwork and the ability to listen to complicated directions. Teams will usually be instructed to build something based on the limited materials given, such as a freestanding tower using a few sheets of paper, some paper clips, a pair of scissors, and a piece of tape.
A Verbal Hands-on problem is typically a Hands-on problem, followed by Verbal: for example, tell a story about the tower that you built.
Lucky number 7! For each Long-Term problem, every team can have a maximum of seven members, every solution a maximum of eight minutes in length including set-up and presentation, and the total cost of all materials in a solution must either be under $125 or $145, depending on the problem (see Cost Limit).
Critical thinking is key! Odyssey requires participants to push their thinking capacities as they decide how best to utilize their skills, time, and money.