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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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Long-Term Problem synopses

Problem 1: Longshot Solution

Divisions I, II, III

A group of “Longshots” believe a disastrous event that threatens the world is about to occur and must stop it. Because no one takes them seriously, it is up to the Longshots to solve the problem. To succeed they must send materials from all corners of the world using vehicles that overcome obstacles and travel simultaneously into and out of a Reaction Area. As time counts down the Longshots will use the components, including baking soda, to create a reaction that produces a very special effect and saves the day!

 

Problem 2: Net Working

Divisions I, II, III & IV

Computers, satellites, and servers work continuously to allow people from all over the world to network with each other. These networks give us access to information including communications, messages, and videos. In this problem, the networked devices are characters who work to keep the world connected. During the performance, an image, a text message, an email and other information will be transmitted between locations in a team-made system. Pop-up advertisements appear and a malware character will infect the network and take it offline. An anti-virus hero comes to the rescue and team-made instruments will be used to present an original song that explains their jobs. 

 

Problem 3: Classics... The Effective Detective

Divisions I, II, III & IV

You will be introduced to one of the greatest detectives the world has ever known as they follow clues to uncover the truth behind some of history’s real-world mysteries. The detective will investigate different types of information, including a clue that is a “red herring” i.e. a distraction, and do intellectual battle with a supervillain who wants the detective to fail. Sounds will ring out and settings will creatively change to set the scene and highlight the action. The team will also be challenged to use the smallest space possible to store its solution.

 

Problem 4: Balsa Limbo

Divisions I, II, III & IV

Teams will build balsa wood structures that are created by adjusting its interconnected parts. When the parts are not in the final form for weight testing, they must be able to pass under a limbo bar. Higher score will be awarded for how low the bar is when the structure passes under it. However, the bar is not allowed to be lower than 1⁄2”! The limbo bar test and maneuvering the structure for testing will take place during the performance time. Testing of the structure will take place during a performance with a theme about dancing and movement.

Problem 5: Gibberish or Not

Divisions I, II, III & IV

Genius or not so smart, statements change from Gibberish at the start. Do the thoughts shine or miss the mark? Masses think they’re being led out of the dark. A Champion arranges meetings with those in power, and gibberish ideas bloom like a flower. The crowd replaces thoughts with wisdom, and a Child sees it is all just humdrum. Misinterpreted over and again, twisted words fly in the end. Music blares and the celebration is wild, and misunderstanding is accepted by the child. The performance will explain why the child does not reveal the truth that what they believe is wisdom was really just gibberish.

Primary: The Fashion Bug

The team’s problem is to create and present a humorous performance that includes a fashion show for insects. An up-and-coming designer will be highlighted as a narrator describes the odd and curious fashions as they are modeled. A team-created song, a commercial, and a critic who reviews the Fashion Show are all part of the performance. Grades K-2

 

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