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Our Virtual Year

Due to the pandemic, our 2020-21 season will look a little different. Many communities and schools continue to require students to maintain social distancing guidelines, which may seem like a significant hurdle for competing in Odyssey of the Mind, but with a little creativity and technology you’ll find that your team can easily perform their Long Term Problem solution safely and remotely.

Learn more about performing virtually »

Why do we love Odyssey of the Mind?

  • Students must create solutions entirely without the help of adults! They learn to solve problems, teach themselves new skills, learn decision making, discover bold new ways to use duct tape, and build self esteem.
  • Teams learn cooperation, respect for each other’s ideas, how to manage money (yes, there’s a budget), and that there isn’t always one right answer.
  • Tournaments are fun, friendly, and encouraging. Students are stars for a day and feel like all the work they’ve put into their solutions has been worth it.

Understanding Odyssey of the Mind Problems

Long Term Problems

Teams get to pick from one of five Long Term problems to solve.

Vehicles – design one or more vehicles to perform different tasks.
Technical – create working mechanical devices to become part of a play.
Classics – create a play including elements of Classical literature, art, music, and history.
Structure – design a balsa wood and glue structure to hold as much weight as possible.
Humour – create a play with humorous characters and situations.
A special sixth problem is created for students in Kindergarten to Grade 2.

2020/2021 long term problem synopsis is here »

Spontaneous Problems

The problem the teams must solve on the day of the tournament is called a spontaneous problem and usually fall into one of three categories:

Verbal – team members take turns saying something which contributes to the solution of the problem. For example: name a tourist attraction and tell us why it has become famous.
Hands on – team members create one or more items from materials provided. For example: create the tallest tower possible from this string, paper, straws, and paper clips.
Verbal Hands On Combination – a combination of the other two types of problems. For example: create a tall tower from these materials and then take turns telling the judges why this tower is a famous tourist attraction

Putting a Team Together

Teams are comprised of no less than 5 and no more than 7 similar-aged children from Kindergarten-University age.

  • All teams in Divisions I, II and III are determined by the highest grade or oldest age among the team members.
  • Primary teams consist of kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students.
  • Division IV – Collegiate & Military. All team members must have a high school diploma or its equivalent and be enrolled in at least one course at a two-or four-year college or university OR be enlisted in the military during the program year.
  • Virtual Division IV — any group of individuals that don’t qualify for Divisions I – III.

Teams need a coach:

Coaches are needed for teams in the younger grades. Coaches help the teams schedule and keep their practice times, keep the students on track, run spontaneous challenges and sometimes mediate disputes.

One of the most important parts of OOTM is that the Team MUST conceive, design, construct, and perform their own ideas. Help external to the team is termed Outside Assistance (OA).

The solution is the Team’s design, their work, their performance, and their score. The Team is responsible for what they do, NOT the coach. OOTM is a hands-on program for kids, but a hands-off program for adults.

The 2020/2021 Program Guide is a great resource for coaches.

You have a team, now what?

Set practice times. To begin with the team will probably meet once a week but closer to competition times teams might want to meet more often.

Solve the problem. Teams should start by reading the problem a few times before they begin experimenting with solutions. If they don’t understand the problem they can submit requests for clarification.

Practice spontaneous. Practice a few problems a meeting or have meetings just for spontaneous. Watch our events page for information on Spontaneous Attack to get feedback from some pros.

Read the program guide. The program guide contains rules that apply to all the problems – such as what kind of batteries are allowed and what materials are exempt from cost limits. Not following the rules in the problem can lose a team points, not following the rules in the program guide can prevent a team from competing, and no one wants that.

Contact us. We’re here to help!