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What is Odyssey of the Mind?

Odyssey of the Mind is an International Creative problem solving program that engages students in their learning by allowing their knowledge and ideas to come to life in an exciting, productive environment. Participants build self-confidence, develop life skills, create new friendships, and are able to recognize and explore their true potential. Odyssey of the Mind proves that students can have fun while they learn.

Odyssey of the Mind National Site

28 International Associations & 40 USA States have Associations

Odyssey of the Mind is made possible by approximately 20,000 volunteers worldwide. This diverse population with a variety of interests and cultures make up our worldwide family. Volunteers fulfill many roles in the program including coaching teams, helping at tournaments, judging solutions, and running Odyssey of the Mind associations!

 

Why Odyssey of the Mind?

Odyssey problems have challenged students to design mechanical dinosaurs, invent new factory machinery, build working vehicles, write a new chapter to Moby DIck, put a twist on classic artwork, turn Pandora`s Box into a video game, and so much more. Since 1978, OotM Problems have challenged students to go beyond conventional thinking and incorporate creative problem solving in learning. Creative Problem Solving is a skill that needs to be nurtured and developed. While a conventional education is important, learning to solve problems creatively and confidently gives the students an important edge in their education and career goals. There is creativity inside each of us and OotM teaches how to tap into it so it can be applied to real-world problems.

 

From the start, OotM recognized the importance of many of the skills now emphasized in education today such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The program combines that with history and art and has encouraged learning these subjects through the Classics and performance problems.

 

All OotM solutions require students to perform, not just the sciences, but arts as well - whether it be set-building, costume making, creating props, acting, singing, or playing an instrument. These skills are important to create a balanced education. Because they are doing something fun, students are eager to perform and develop self confidence and public speaking skills along the way. Many participants credit their success to Odyssey of the Mind. Because different elements are involved within each problem, OotM brings together children with varying interests who often form life long frienships.

2020 has been a special year for Odyssey of the Mind (OotM) and the entire world. 

 

The gathering of over 850 teams from around the world, for the World Finals, was cancelled. When OotM HQ decided to conduct a virtual World Finals there were more questions than answers, yet, amazingly, on May 15, 2020, there were  843 teams registered who had sent in their videos and required documentations. Teams from around the world found different methods to present their solutions. Nothing stopped Odyssey of the Mind teams to show off their creativity!  


Teams from Canada, China, Belarus, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland were among those participating in this unique experience along with many teams from the USA.  

 

Teams from Nations and La Grande Boissière Campuses, seven teams eligible for the World Finals, enthusiastically participated in the Virtual World Finals, knowing they had not been able to fine tune and improve their Long Term and Style March 7th performances and accepting that their participation in the event was what counted. Their Spontaneous Problem component was done Virtually on Sunday, May 17th. Their participation brought them a sense of fulfillment and great satisfaction. There were smiles and expressions of joy.

INFO

What is Odyssey of the Mind?

Odyssey of the Mind is an International Creative problem solving program that engages students in their learning by allowing their knowledge and ideas to come to life in an exciting, productive environment. Participants build self-confidence, develop life skills, create new friendships, and are able to recognize and explore their true potential. Odyssey of the Mind proves that students can have fun while they learn.

Odyssey of the Mind National Site

28 International Associations & 40 USA States have Associations

Odyssey of the Mind is made possible by approximately 20,000 volunteers worldwide. This diverse population with a variety of interests and cultures make up our worldwide family. Volunteers fulfill many roles in the program including coaching teams, helping at tournaments, judging solutions, and running Odyssey of the Mind associations!

 

Why Odyssey of the Mind?

Odyssey problems have challenged students to design mechanical dinosaurs, invent new factory machinery, build working vehicles, write a new chapter to Moby DIck, put a twist on classic artwork, turn Pandora`s Box into a video game, and so much more. Since 1978, OotM Problems have challenged students to go beyond conventional thinking and incorporate creative problem solving in learning. Creative Problem Solving is a skill that needs to be nurtured and developed. While a conventional education is important, learning to solve problems creatively and confidently gives the students an important edge in their education and career goals. There is creativity inside each of us and OotM teaches how to tap into it so it can be applied to real-world problems.

 

From the start, OotM recognized the importance of many of the skills now emphasized in education today such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The program combines that with history and art and has encouraged learning these subjects through the Classics and performance problems.

 

All OotM solutions require students to perform, not just the sciences, but arts as well - whether it be set-building, costume making, creating props, acting, singing, or playing an instrument. These skills are important to create a balanced education. Because they are doing something fun, students are eager to perform and develop self confidence and public speaking skills along the way. Many participants credit their success to Odyssey of the Mind. Because different elements are involved within each problem, OotM brings together children with varying interests who often form life long frienships.

2020 has been a special year for Odyssey of the Mind (OotM) and the entire world. 

 

The gathering of over 850 teams from around the world, for the World Finals, was cancelled. When OotM HQ decided to conduct a virtual World Finals there were more questions than answers, yet, amazingly, on May 15, 2020, there were  843 teams registered who had sent in their videos and required documentations. Teams from around the world found different methods to present their solutions. Nothing stopped Odyssey of the Mind teams to show off their creativity!  


Teams from Canada, China, Belarus, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland were among those participating in this unique experience along with many teams from the USA.  

 

Teams from Nations and La Grande Boissière Campuses, seven teams eligible for the World Finals, enthusiastically participated in the Virtual World Finals, knowing they had not been able to fine tune and improve their Long Term and Style March 7th performances and accepting that their participation in the event was what counted. Their Spontaneous Problem component was done Virtually on Sunday, May 17th. Their participation brought them a sense of fulfillment and great satisfaction. There were smiles and expressions of joy.

Problems Description

Our Problems

Odyssey of the Mind is the place to go where it’s fun to look for problems. Our problems are not ‘practical’. We do not teach OMers how to solve A Problem, we teach them how to be Problem Solvers! Each year, we release six original Long Term Problems – five competitive problems for students from kindergarten through college and one primary problem for K-2nd graders. Each problem is original, contains a few limitations to work within, and lists scoring categories. There are two types of “problems” in Odyssey of the Mind: Long-Term Problems and Spontaneous Problems. To learn more about Our Problems please keep reading.

 

Long Term Problems

Long-Term Problems are the engine that propels Odyssey of the Mind. Teams select their problem when they join the program and spend weeks or months to create and develop their solution. Each team member will find a role to play in the many stages of problem-solving that include brainstorming, artwork, set design, technical design, writing sketches and much more! The solutions are presented in a live performance. Thousands of teams from all over the world will select and solve the same problem but no two solutions are ever the same! Everyone learns to think Beyond the Box. Long Term problems are different every year but they fall into general categories:

 

Vehicle

Problem #1 — Traveling through creative courses, hitting targets, delivering parts, and carrying teammates “across the sky or “under the seas” are some of the tasks completed by original team-made “vehicles. Teams use unusual sources of energy and original engineering to create vehicles that often don’t look or move like a vehicle. OMers perform an original skit that usually includes characters and special effects but the emphasis is on the running and testing of the vehicle.

 

Technical

Problem #2 – Creating a robotic pet, a Not-So-Haunted pop-up House, and rubber band powered devices are technical problems our teams have solved. The level of technology is up to the team and ranges from basic engineering and electronics to more advanced robotics. Technical devices have served purposes that include producing special effects, delivering mail, and improving the lives of people in need. OMers test their devices in performances that are often hilarious.

 

Classics

Problem #3 – Imagine turning the story of Pandora’s Box into a video game or creating an original Lost Labor of Heracles! In our Classics problem, teams write and perform original theatrical performances based on a work from classical literature, artwork, music, culture, or history. Subjects range from bringing the past to life to revisiting and rewriting history, all while OMers learn about world history. Solutions often reflect upon the majesty and sophistication of humanity’s most impactful and enduring creations.

 

Structure

Problem #4 – Picture a 15-gram (½ ounce) structure made of balsa wood holding and balancing a stack of weights while getting rammed, twisted, or even broken apart. Each year a new problem requires an original structure to withstand a new test of strength as it holds weight until it breaks. It’s not uncommon for experienced teams to hold over 1,000 pounds. OMers create and present performances ranging from comical to extravagant where testing their structures is part of the action.

 

Performance

Problem #5 – Whether it is showing the world from the point of view of an animal, acting out a Food Court where all of the characters in a courtroom are food, or showing social outcasts saving the planet, you can be sure that our performance problem will be fun and unexpected. In their solutions teams integrate stage and drama elements from lighting effects to puppetry to elaborate set changes. Original characters and unusual situations give OMers plenty of opportunity to show off their creativity.

Primary

5 to 7 years old

Teams are introduced to Odyssey of the Mind with an age appropriate problem similar to a competitive one.

 

Spontaneous Problems

These are not solved over a long term. They are not solved in a short term. They are solved instantly using spontaneous creativity. Teams practice and prepare for the Spontaneous experience but the actual Spontaneous Problem they will solve is not revealed to them until they walk into the room to solve the problem! Spontaneous develops quick thinking, creativity, teamwork, and the ability to deal with the unexpected which are all important educational aspects of Odyssey of the Mind. Teams receive a copy of their problem and are allowed to ask questions during their competition time. Spontaneous Problems come from three general categories:

 

Verbal

Verbal Spontaneous Problems require teams to give verbal, spoken responses to questions or prompts, and those responses are scored according to how creative (or common) they seem to trained judges in the room.

 

For example, teams might be asked, “Name things that are green,” or they could be given random household items and asked to present a skit using the items, on the premise, or complete a sentence such as “When it rains, the strangest thing happens, I…” Teams are usually given just a few minutes to think and then asked to provide their solutions.

 

Hands-On

Hands-On Spontaneous Problems require different levels of physical interaction among team members to solve. Generally a hands-on spontaneous problem will challenge the teams to move, build, or to use provided items to complete a task.

 

Examples of “Hands On” problems range from building a bridge out of random items that extends as far as possible to creating a device to move different balls different distances and into scoring containers, and devising a system of communication using random objects.  For Hands On problems, teams are often given a few minutes to devise, build, and test their solution prior to completing the task for score.  In addition to points for completing tasks, teams are also often scored on their teamwork and creativity.

 

Combination

This type of problem combines some type of physical activity and verbal replies or prompts. Examples of “Combination” problems include each team member making a character from aluminum foil and then telling a story using those characters, having the team use props and costumes and say what a caption of their picture might be, or picking up objects and saying a creative use for them. Teams generally have time to look at any materials they are provided.

 

Division:

Birthday Before May 1

Division I: 5 -11 years old

Division II: 12 -14 years old

Division III: 15 - 18 Years Old

Division IV: 18+ - End of University

Problem Synopsis

2020-2021 Long Term Problem Synopses

All Problems have an 8-minute time limit.

Problem 1: OMer the ROMER
OMers are always looking for new fun—and funny—experiences! Teams will design and build a ride-on vehicle that takes an OMer on an adventure in search of humor. The vehicle will use stored energy as it is propelled forward and in reverse. At each place, the vehicle and the OMer will react to something funny before the vehicle begins to travel to the next destination. Performances will also include the OMer making an unplanned stop to take a selfie, a creative physical representation of the selfie, and a vehicle-produced special effect. 

Divisions I, II, III & IV

Problem 2: Virtual Odyssey
Creativity is boundless as teams create a performance that includes a virtual reality world. As part of the world, they will design and build various technical effects, which include changing something that is two-dimensional into three-dimensional. During the performance, a character will unknowingly enter the virtual reality world where it will encounter a nefarious creature. It will learn the rules of the virtual world as the odyssey progresses. Finally, the character will escape the “clutches” of the creature and earn the last credit that allows it to journey back into the real world. The team will also create a special effect indicating to the judges and audience when the performance goes into virtual reality. 

Divisions I, II, III & IV

Problem 3: OMER and the Beanstalk

Sponsored by ARM & HAMMER TM

Our favorite story books come alive when a special bean grows into a magic “beanstalk” that takes a youngster into a storybook land. There, a creative host will guide them around as they meet different storybook characters and encounter objects from selected stories that exist together in this mystical land. Teams will use ARM & HAMMERTM Baking Soda to create works of art relating to the stories and a set piece that appears to grow. 

Divisions I, II, III & IV

Problem 4: It's a Trap!


Oh no, it’s a trap! Or is it? In this problem, teams will design and build a structure made of only balsa wood and glue that holds as much weight as possible after it is used to trap a moving object. However, an oblivious character will unwittingly avoid traps it does not recognize in a humorous performance. The performance will also include a narrator character that alerts the audience to the action and the traps.

Note: Wrecking Ball Structure II will return in the future when competitions are not in a virtual platform.

Divisions I, II, III & IV

Problem 5: Superhero Socks: A Cliffhanger Beginning
Get ready for a story that begins with a cliffhanger “ending.” A superhero is in peril and needs help to escape. Just as all hope seems lost, the Superhero puts on a pair of Super Socks that give the hero a new special power. The superhero uses the new power to escape and fend off an adversary who caused the cliffhanger situation. Teams will also create an extreme weather setting, a humorous character, and a sound effect that occurs whenever the character activates the Super Socks. 

Divisions I, II, III & IV

Primary Problem: Animals are People Too!
Everyone sees the world in a different way. Imagine if a pair of glasses let you see something completely different. In this problem, teams will create and present a humorous performance about a magical pair of glasses that when looked through, make people look like animals. Even more, people look like different animals to those who view them through the glasses! Teams will design a costume that transforms a character’s appearance from human to an animal, and another that transforms an animal to a different animal. 

Grades K-2 (Years 1 - 3)

 

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