FAQS

For Everyone

What is Odyssey of the Mind?

How are teams formed?

How many people are on a team?

What are the Divisions for Competition?

Are the problems different at each level—Regional, State, and Worlds?
What is Style?

What is Outside Assistance?

What is the difference between Long Term Problems and Spontaneous Problems?

What are the costs associated with Odyssey of the Mind?

For Teams

Where do teams meet?

How often should teams practice?

What do teams do at meetings?

For Coaches

Why should I coach Odyssey?

Who can be a Coach?

Where do I get help?

What does the coach do?

For Parents

What is Expected of Each Odyssey Parent?

For Volunteers

For Judges

Planning for the Regional Tournament

Where and when is the Regional Tournament?

For Everyone

What is Odyssey of the Mind?

Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem solving program which teaches students how to think divergently by providing open-ended problems that appeal to a wide range of interests. Students solve these problems by writing skits, sewing costumes, making props and, depending on the problem choice, building vehicles, technical elements or balsa wood structures.

The Odyssey of the Mind Association is a private organization founded by Dr. Sam Micklus and Dr. Ted Gourley of Glassboro State College (Now Rowan University), New Jersey, in 1978. The program includes member schools from almost every state and from more than 35 countries.

The foundation of the program is the creative solution of one of five long- term problems that students work on for three to five months. These challenges are designed with specific goals, guidelines, judging criteria, and monetary limitations. New long-term problems are created every year.

How are teams formed?

The best teams are a mix of students with varying interests and talents, eg; writers, artists, actors, musicians, builders, etc. Usually, classmates or friends from the same school
(and usually from the same grade) come together to form an OotM Mind team.

How many people are on a team?

Up to seven may perform in the long-term portion of competition but only five may do the spontaneous part of the competition.

If you have only 6 members and another person joins later, that’s fine, but if you have 7 members and one quits after the team has begun solving the problem together, a new team member may not be added.  The reason for this is that only up to 7 brains total can work on a problem.  The extra team member, even if they’ve quit constitutes “outside assistance.”  Be careful, too, that a sibling present at practices who is not part of the team does not add in their two cents.  That, too, would be considered outside assistance.  Primary teams can have up to 8 members on a team since it’s non-competitive. Eight, but not nine or more 🙂
Division One: Grade K-5th Grade.  Typically K-2nd students join the primary team, but they are also allowed to join a competitive team.  Typically, this happens when a student has been on a primary team the year before and want to do one of the competitive problems the next year.

What are the Divisions for Competition?

Teams are formed by grade level and a team’s division is determined by the grade level of the oldest team member.

  • Primary Division. Students in kindergarten through grade two.
  • Division One. Students in grades three through five.
  • Division Two. Students in grades six through nine.
  • Division Three. Students in grades ten through twelve

Are the problems different at each level—Regional, State, and Worlds?
What is Style?

Style is the third scored component of a long-term solution. Style scores are scaled to 50 points, with each of four categories receiving up to 10 points, and “Overall Effect” also receiving up to 10 points. Each team must fill out three copies of the “Style Form” to give the Staging Area judge(s) at each competition. So … what IS style, exactly? Style is the unique elements that each team adds to the basic long-term problem solution. There are one or two “mandatory” elements listed in section F of each long-term problem. Then the team may select other “free choice” elements. The team should ask itself, “what have we made or done that is not scored in the long term problem specifically, but which enhances our presentation in a unique and ‘stylish’ way?” The answer may be a creative costume, a clever way of introducing themselves, an unusual use of materials … almost anything may be listed for style score

What is Outside Assistance?

This is the heart of the OotM program. Because coaches want to do their job, do it well, and never place a team in jeopardy due to their own misinterpretation of what Outside Assistance is or isn’t, it is important that they know just what does and does not qualify as Outside Assistance.

Scenario A: For a Division I team a parent plugs in a power tool for one of the students because it is a rule in their house that no children are allowed to plug in any appliance.

Question: Is it Outside Assistance (OA) for any non-team member to plug in a power tool that the team uses to complete its solution to the problem?

Answer: No, it is not OA for a parent to plug a cord in an outlet for practice. (The parent may not use the power tool to work on the problem solution.) However, it is OA if someone other than the team plugs a cord in during the team’s performance time.

Scenario B: Kids try to assemble two boards (fourth graders) using screws and nails, but they keep falling apart.

Question: Is it OA for the team to ask an adult who is familiar with carpentry how to fix the problem?

Answer: An adult can tell and show the team members various ways to connect boards. He/She must not show the team one specific way to connect the boards in the team’s solution. An adult should give the team many possible ways to assemble the boards and must allow the team to determine what it will do in its solution. There is a principle that if information can be found through research, an adult can tell the team.

Scenario C: A team decides it will center its skit on a CELL theme. The coach gives the team members a homework assignment to come up with as many words as possible that contain the word CELL, such as cellophane, cellular phone, etc.

Question: Is it OA for a coach to give a homework assignment that gets the kids to think more creatively about an initial idea than they came up with?

Answer: Although the coach should not give the team any examples, the assignment is one of the types of things the coach should do to help the team develop its creativity.

What do you need to register?

Who can be a judge?

What is the difference between Long Term Problems and Spontaneous Problems?

Both problems are designed for competition, with scoring components and rules to be followed. But as their name suggests, the time needed to develop a solution is very different. A team will work on one long term problem for a long while; these problems require months of preparation and hard work. A team might practice spontaneous problems often but each of these problems can be solved in a 10-20 minute time frame. Spontaneous problems are designed to improve a team’s spur-of-the-moment problem-solving skills. Teams will perform their long term solution and also solve a spontaneous problem at the regional competition.

What are the costs associated with Odyssey of the Mind?

  • Generally, it will cost $25-$50 per team member to participate in OotM through March. Registration fees are usually paid by the School or PTA.
  • Team supplies and expenses vary and are controlled by the team but there is a strict cost limit $125-150 on the items included in a long-term problem.
  • School registration (Membership). $100-$135/school. This membership covers several teams within a school or group.
  • Team registration for regional tournament. $65/team
  • Teams that advance to the VA State Finals and even the World Finals will have additional fees and expenses including: registration, room and board, and travel costs. Fundraising may be necessary to raise funds for teams that qualify for the World Finals.

For Teams

Where do teams meet?

Meeting place varies by team. Team meetings can be held at school or at the home of the coach or another parent. Coaches can reserve a room to hold meetings at a NP school. During a meeting, team members will work on a solution to the long term problem they have chosen to solve. The team will also practice spontaneous problem solving. Snacks are another important part of every OotM meeting!  

How often should teams practice?

Time commitment varies by team since team members set their own goals which drive their pace and schedule. Teams that aspire to be more competitive will meet longer and/or more often. Generally, teams meet once a week for about two hours. As competition day approaches, teams might schedule additional meetings to accomplish their goals. The coach will work with the team to set the schedule and plan meetings.

What do teams do at meetings?

For Coaches

Why should I coach Odyssey?

No other activity offers all of the following options in one wonderful package:

  • A chance to help children implement their own unique ideas
  • A time to learn to think more divergently ourselves
  • A method for teaching the concepts of true teamwork to children
  • An opportunity to interact with children in a special and unforgettable way
  • An exciting way to teach unlimited lifelong skills to children
  • An exciting way to learn lifelong attitudes towards creativity
  • A means to make a difference in the future for your own child and many others

Creativity, teamwork, self-confidence, persistence, and problem solving: all these are fostered in Odyssey. All of these also engender some mess, some chaos, some experimentation, some learning through failure. But what more glorious way to teach such important lessons than by having fun and feeling part of a unique and supportive group of creative people?

Copied from: Reasons to Coach Odyssey of the Mind by Lisa Love

Who can be a Coach?

Usually, the coach of the team is the parent of one (or more) team members although a team could recruit another adult to coach, eg; aunt, uncle, friend, etc. Coaches must be adults, 18 years old or older.

Where do I get help?

  1. The Problem Statement. No, really, read it again.
  2. The Program Guide. A searchable e-copy can be useful, since some topics are ‘hidden’ (e.g. info on membership signs in the ‘Penalties’ section).
  3. The Coaches’ Handbook
  4. This FAQ!!
  5. The Regional 11 Website https://novaeastodysseyofthemind.wordpress.com
  6. The VOICES Website, http://vaodyssey.org
  7. The National Website (CCI), http://www.odysseyofthemind.com
  8. Your School Coordinator
  9. If your question is specific to a long-term problem:
    1. Read the Clarifications published on the National Website
    2. Email the Problem Captain (Regional Website, “Who’s Who” page)
    3. If those don’t resolve your team’s question, they may request a Clarification of their own. Note that CCI does not appreciate clarification requests that are already answered in the Program Guide, the Problem Statement, or previously-published Clarifications, so do your homework first.
    4. To submit a clarification request, go to the national website, click “Clarifications” select the appropriate problem, enter your membership number and membership zip code at the bottom, and click “log in”. Remember – the membership zip code is the zip code submitted with your membership request, and might be different from the school’s zip code. Ask your coordinator for this information.
  1. If your question is about Judging/Judges/Judges’ Training, ask our Judges Coordinator (via “Contact Us” at the regional website)
  2. If your question is about ordering team T-shirts, ask the T-shirt Coordinator (via “Who’s Who” page at the regional website)
  3. If your question is about Region 12 tournament sites or Region-specific rules, or if you are volunteering to help with one of the many little tasks that have to happen to make the Region run, then email the Tournament Director (via “Who’s Who” page at the regional website)

What does the coach do?

For Parents

What is Expected of Each Odyssey Parent?

  1. Absolutely no Outside Assistance.
    1. Normally, this means you are limited to providing guidance to your child by asking questions rather than giving direction. “What different methods of attaching felt to papier mache can you think of?” rather than “Masking tape will never hold that felt on to the paper mache!”
    2. You can teach skills like sewing or drilling, but not on the Odyssey project itself – use scrap material as a teaching instrument.
    3. On Competition Day, you cannot apply makeup or arrange their hair, etc. Teammates must help each other with these tasks.
    4. All ideas must come from the children on the team.
  2. Encourage your child to think about Odyssey and the team’s presentation.
  3. Ensure that your child has the time and resources to meet his/her team obligations.
  4. Ensure that your child arrives to meetings on time. If he/she must miss a meeting, arrive late, or leave early, let the Coach know as early as possible.
  5. Keep an open line of communication with the Coach.
  6. Volunteer to be a “Volunteer” or “Judge” on Competition Day. Usually this means two hours of Registrations or Concessions on the day of the competition. We will need one or two volunteers.

For Volunteers

When will teams know the time=slot for their volunteer coverage responsibility?

Is it possible to schedule an assignment so that they can see a specific team perform?

For Judges

Is it possible to schedule a judge so that they can see a specific team perform?

No. Judges are busy the entire day judging the problem they’ve been assigned to. Judges need to be there for the entire competition. Much of the judging is subjective in nature and therefore consistency in the judging team is essential to provide a fair assessment of the teams’ solutions. If a judge were to leave in the middle of the tournament (due to illness, for instance), we would have to go back and remove that judge’s scores from all of the teams that had competed so far that day.

Can teams watch other teams’ competition performances?

Yes. Indeed, we encourage teams to watch other teams’ long-term performances on tournament day. Teams can watch other teams doing the same long-term problem, as well as teams doing other problems. Teams probably should NOT watch practice performances by other teams, prior to the Regional Tournament, especially if they are solving the same problem.

HOW CAN COACHES ACCESS INFORMATION TO GET THEIR TEAMS STARTED?

Once your team has sent in their school’s registration and fee and received the email from Odyssey of the Mind’s webguy and the coordinator’s packet, coaches can ask the coordinator for the school’s membership number (a 5-digit number that came in the email and packet) and the zip code.  They can use the info and steps below to access necessary information to get their team rolling.  Plus, they should save the date, and come to Coaches’ Training on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at St. Louis Catholic School on Popkins Lane in Alexandria, VA from 8:15 a.m. -1:00 p.m.  The cost is $25, checks made payable to Novaeast Odyssey of the Mind, and a light breakfast will be provided.

Log onto www.odysseyofthemind.com

Click Teams in the top bar.

Select Members Area.

Type in your school’s membership number which your coordinator should have received with their packet and the zip code which your coordinator wrote on the school registration form (usually the zip code of your school, but sometimes the zip code of your school’s coordinator).

Click Login.

Click Long Term Problems (This link takes you to a page where you can find, read, and print out copies of each of the long-term problems, a team contract you may wish for team members to sign, the program guide which is a MUST READ, style, cost, and outside assistance forms, tips to get started, and even certificates.  There is also a link at the top tab to take you to the place to ask for or check on clarifications related to the problem your team chooses.)

Happy Searching!

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