What is Odyssey of the Mind?
Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving program for students ranging in age from kindergarten through college. Students work on teams to solve problems creatively! Modeled on interscholastic sports, Odyssey of the Mind’s creative competitions combine the excitement of athletic competition with fun-filled often zany mental gymnastics. Teams match wits & abilities together to develop creative solutions to broadly defined problems. It allows students to work with others and provides them with the opportunity to learn creative problem solving, brainstorming, and teamwork. Students form teams of up to seven members to develop a solution to one of six Long Term Problems over several months. During this time, teams are also working on developing their skills for other aspects of the competition.
Teams, problems, and competitions are organized into five different divisions by age group (Primary, I, II, III, IV). Division I is elementary aged competitors, Division II is middle school age students, Division III is high school age students, and Division IV is for college students.The primary division/problem is an exhibition only and is not judged competitively. Primary teams will only perform at regional competitions and the primary problem is setup to be an introduction to the program for young students.
The team of up to seven members selects from the six given problems and after working for several months on the solution, presents it at a regional tournament. At this time, the students will compete against other teams solving the same problem in their age division. Teams are scored for meeting the requirements of the problem and for creativity in categories specific to each problem. The top winners will be invited to State Finals and the top winners for each problem in each division at State Finals are invited to compete at the World Finals.
At each competition the teams are also given spontaneous problems to solve the day of the competition. These problems foster creativity and teamwork in a very short time period. Solutions involve a form of brainstorming and working under the pressure of a tight deadline. Teams may practice for this segment for months in preparation, but they will not know anything about the specifics of the problem ahead of time.
Participation in Odyssey of the Mind is a memorable experience for the team members. Students look forward to forming new teams and solving new problems each year.The team will learn more from their time in OotM than they imagined – and they’ll remember the good times they had in the process.
The Odyssey of the Mind program is based on the premise that creativity can be taught. Try and think of anyone who fits any of these descriptions . . . the talented student that is “naturally” creative; the student whose talents require nurturing; the student who does not think of herself as creative, but feels she is “different” than her peers; or the student with untapped potential but no outlet for it to thrive? Odyssey of the Mind provides that outlet in an environment where almost every type of student will thrive. The program can provide much more than teaching students how to think: it augments the lessons taught in the classroom and allows students to apply what they’ve learned to different situations. In this time of budgetary cutbacks in the arts and other important areas, students can continue to learn art, music, creative writing, acting, and just about whatever else they’re interested in through incorporating those subjects into their long-term problem solution.