What is Odyssey of the Mind?

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What is Odyssey of the Mind?. A n international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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What is Odyssey of the Mind?

What is Odyssey of the Mind?An international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college.

Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics.

Each year, five new competitive problems are presented to solve. Some of the problems are more technical in nature, while others are artistic or performance based.

The teams are invited to participate in competition.

Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and world level.

At the competition, the teams are given an on-the-spot "spontaneous" problem to solve

1Why Odyssey of the Mind is Good for Kids

The combination of long-term problem-solving, style, and spontaneous problem-solving produces a confident, able student. By tapping into creativity, and through encouraging imaginative paths to problem-solving, students learn skills that will provide them with the ability to solve problems -- great and small -- for a lifetime. Students learn how to identify challenges and to think creatively to solve those problems. While conventional thinking has an important place in a well-rounded education, students need to learn how to think creatively and productively.

Students develop team-building skills by working in groups of as many as seven students per team.Students learn to examine problems and to identify the real challenge without limiting the possible solutions and their potential success.The creative-thinking process is nurtured and developed as a problem-solving tool.Students of all types will find something that will appeal to them.The fun of participation leads to an elevated interest in regular classroom curricula.

2Age DivisionsTeams are formed by division and compete against teams in the same division and problem

Division I -- Grades K-5 (U.S.): Less than 12 years of age on May 1, 2015

Division II -- Grades 6-8 (U.S.): Less than 15 years of age on May 1, 2015

Odyssey of the Mind Problems

Primary K-25 Long term problemsThe problems are designed for competition, with scoring components and limitations, or rules to be followed. The long-term problems change every year. They fall into five general categories. These are mechanical/vehicle, technical performance, classics, structure and performance.


Teams design, build and operate vehicles of various size and with various power sources. Sometimes they drive the vehicles, and sometimes the vehicles perform tasks, such as overcoming obstacles or visiting other "countries" to retrieve artifacts.


The theme of this problem is based on the classical -- from literature to architecture to art. Whether it's writing an additional chapter to Moby Dick or bringing paintings to life, it's always a terrific learning experience.


In this problem, teams present performances that revolve around a specific theme and incorporate required elements. Past themes include "morphing" objects, animals that express human emotions, and originating folktales.


Teams design and build structures, using only balsa wood and glue. They test them by supporting and holding as much weight as possible -- sometimes more than a thousand pounds! Teams usually present a skit as part of the Style presentation.

Technical Performance

Teams make innovative contraptions and incorporate artistic elements into their solutions. They might be asked to write an original musical score to play on a "new" type of instrument, or to build a robot with human characteristics, or to perform tasks using a chain reaction of snapping mousetraps.

Forming TeamsDifferent methods of grouping students include:Problem interestIndividual characteristicsLetting students choose their teammatesPast Odyssey experienceDates and times when team members can get togetherGeographic locationCoach input

Overview of Coaching ResponsibilitiesFind a time and place for the team to meet; supervise ALL meetings and ensure safety of team members Help the team learn how to read and understand the Long-Term problem, and brainstorm solutions Teach the team how to solve spontaneous problems; teach strategies for doing spontaneous Avoid giving "outside assistance" for Long-Term & Style solutions; help keep parents from doing so Keep the team on taskTeach the team skills they need, or help find someone who can teach them; help them obtain materials Be certain that forms are filled out by the team, and meet registration is sent in on time Help find officials for the tournament Encourage the team to work together; encourage them to meet their goalsHelp get the team to the tournament, with props, supporters, and self-confidence in their solution

Volunteering to coach Odyssey of the Mind is an adventure. With some preparation it will be an adventure you will always treasure. Your job, essentially, is to help guide 5-7 creative students to learn to solve difficult problems, while allowing all ideas and solutions to be the students' own. So... how do you get them to learn things without telling them answers?? And what, exactly, happens at an Odyssey of the Mind meeting, anyway? And what HAVE you gotten yourself into? This guide is intended to answer some of these questions. Above everything else, Odyssey of the Mind should be FUN: fun for the students and fun for you! Every moment will not be fun, of course, but if your team and you are not having a good time most of the time, you need to evaluate what has taken the fun away. Being creative, getting to do things all by themselves, figuring out difficult challenges, working out how to solve problems together ... these should all be exciting for the team. And watching them do this should be fun for YOU!

Most teams meet for 1-3 hours per week; this is entirely up to the individual team, however! Some teams meet in homes, some meet in schools or churches -- this is also entirely up to the team. If you cannot be present at a meeting, make sure another responsible adult supervises the team. Note: A Division 3 team may have a team captain who is in charge of meetings, but must still have an adult responsible for the team.

11Upcoming DatesCoaches TrainingNovember 8, 2014 in CliftonSpontaneous WorkshopJanuary 24, 2015 in CliftonJudges Training (Tentative)February 28, 2015 in CentrevilleRegion 12 TournamentMarch 21, 2015 in NokesvilleVA State TournamentApril 18, 2015 in LORTONOdyssey World TournamentMay 20, 2015 in East Lansing