Odyssey of the Mind teaches students to learn creative problem-solving methods while having fun in the process. For more than twenty five years, this unique program has helped teachers generate excitement in their students. 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. The Odyssey of the Mind teaches students how to think divergently by providing open-ended problems that appeal to a wide range of interests. Students learn how to identify challenges and to think creatively to solve those problems. They are free to express their ideas and suggestions without fear of criticism. The creative problem-solving process rewards thinking “outside of the box.” While conventional thinking has an important place in a well-rounded education, students need to learn how to think creatively and productively.
21st Century Skills
Odyssey of the Mind teaches students 21st century skills that they need to be successful today and in the future. Throughout the season, children learn to think and work creatively and implement innovation. In addition, learning to reason effectively, utilize systems thinking, solve problems and make sound judgments and decisions are some of the critical thinking and problem solving skills that participants develop. Finally through the process of solving their long term problem, enhancing their solution with style and solving spontaneous problems on the spot, children learn to communicate clearly and effectively plus respectively collaborate with others.
Today’s students need more than core knowledge to be successful. Students must also learn the essential skills for today’s world, such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, teamwork and collaboration in addition to core subjects and 21st interdisciplinary themes. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has identified the elements described below as critical to ensure 21st century readiness for every student.
Learning & Innovation Skills
Learning and innovation skills are what separate students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in today’s world and those who are not. They include:
- Creativity and Innovation
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
- Communication and Collaboration
Information, Media & Technology Skills
Today, we live in a technology and media-driven environment, marked by access to an abundance of information, rapid changes in technology tools and the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on an unprecedented scale. Effective citizens and workers must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills, such as:
- Information Literacy
- Media Literacy
- ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) Literacy
Life & Career Skills
Today’s life and work environments require far more than thinking skills and content knowledge. The ability to navigate the complex life and work environments in the globally competitive information age requires students to pay rigorous attention to developing adequate life and career skills, such as:
- Flexibility and Adaptability
- Initiative and Self-Direction
- Social and Cross-Cultural Skills
- Productivity and Accountability
- Leadership and Responsibility
For more information on 21st century skills, the framework, detailed outcomes and support systems, please see Partnership for 21st Century Skills at www.p21.org.
Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM)
Odyssey of the Mind provides an extra-curricular activity for students that is driven by problem-solving, discovery, exploratory learning, and it requires students to actively engage in order to find its solution. Throughout the problem solving process, Odyssey of the Mind students learn STEM concepts by assessing the composition and strength of materials, designing vehicles and devices, engineering structures, sets and backdrops, and calculating scores, geometry and physics. Because students are working in a project based environment where they solve a problem from a multi-disciplinary approach, they incorporate science, technology, engineering and math into the process. Odyssey of the Mind problems, from technical to classics, structural to performance, provide a creative and innovative way to problem solve while applying STEM concepts that students have learned.
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and offers students one of the best opportunities to make sense of the world holistically, rather than in bits and pieces. By removing the traditional barriers between the four disciplines, STEM integrates them into one cohesive teaching and learning paradigm. As an interdisciplinary approach to learning where academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons, STEM teaches students to apply science, technology, engineering, and math in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise. Odyssey of the Mind develops the following STEM skills in students:
Able to define questions and problems, design investigations to gather data, collect and organize data, draw conclusions, and then apply understandings to new and novel situations.
Creatively use science, mathematics, and technology concepts and principles by applying them to the engineering design process.
Recognizes the needs of the world and creatively design, test, redesign, and then implement solutions (engineering process).
Able to use initiative and self-motivation to set agendas, develop and gain self-confidence, and work within time specific time frames.
Able to apply rational and logical thought process of science, mathematics, and engineering design, to innovation and invention.
Understand and explain the nature of technology, develop the skills needed, and apply technology appropriately.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare children for college and the workforce.
The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.