Howard Drive Elementary Odyssey of the Mind Team Advances to World Finals for the Second Year

OM Champs 2014In their second year of forming a team and competing in Odyssey of the Mind, the Howard Drive Odyssey of the Mind team has again made it to the World Finals! Last year, this team placed fourth in the World competition that included over 800 teams from more than 25 countries including China, Japan, Poland, Germany, Russia, and Canada. The World Finals will be held this year at Iowa State University, May 28 through 31. Howard Drive won their regional competition in February and advanced to the Florida State Finals on April 12th where they received FIRST PLACE, and the right to advance to World Finals.

What is Odyssey of the Mind?

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational competition started in 1978 (originally called Olympics of the Mind). The program provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics.

Teams (of 5-7 students) are divided into four divisions based on their ages. Each team gets half a year to solve a problem then present their solution at a regional tournament. At the tournament they are judged on their solution, the style of their presentation, and on how well they solve a problem presented to them on that day. There is no one right answer, so judges give points based on creativity, quick thinking, and style in their solutions. Tournaments are first held at a regional level. Teams scoring the highest number of points for their problem and division at the regional competition are chosen to compete at their State Finals. Teams that score the highest number of points at their State Finals are invited to compete at the World Finals.

What are the Problems?

Teams get to pick from one of five problems to solve. These are called long term problems. Each year they are different, but there is always one in each of these categories:

1. Vehicles – design one or more vehicles to perform different tasks.

2. Technical – create working mechanical devices to become part of a play.

3. Classics – create a play including elements of classical literature, art, music, and history.

4. Structure – design a balsa wood and glue structure to hold as much weight as possible.

5. Humor – create a play with humorous characters and situations.

6. A special, non-competitive, sixth problem is created for students in Kindergarten to Grade 2. In addition to showing their solution for the long-term problem at the tournament, the team will also be given a different problem to think about and solve on the spot at the tournament (usually with 3-5 minutes think time and sometimes a few more minutes to complete). This is called a spontaneous problem and they usually fall into one of three categories.

1. Verbal – team members take turns saying something which contributes to the solution of the problem.

2. Hands On – team members create one or more items from materials provided.

3. Verbal/Hands On Combination – a combination of the other two types of problems.

Why is Odyssey of the Mind so Important?

• Students must create solutions entirely without the help of adults! They learn to solve problems, build structures, write stories/scripts, make costumes, teach themselves new skills, make decisions, and work together as a team.

• Teams learn cooperation, respect for each other’s ideas, how to manage money (they have a limited budget to solve their problem), that there isn’t always one right answer, and to take risks that challenge them to be as creative as possible!

• Tournaments are fun, friendly, and encouraging. Students have the opportunity to meet teams from other regions of their state and, if they qualify, from around the world!

As Albert Einstein stated, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Our local Howard Drive team is learning to think “outside the box”, work as a team, and solve complex problems that face our world today. Students like these will be the innovators of the future; the Steve Jobs, the Nikola Teslas, and the Bill Gates of tomorrow!

The team is once again beginning the process of trying to raise funds to compete on the world stage. Although, the cost of participating in Odyssey of the Mind is not high initially, once a team qualifies to compete at the World Finals it becomes very expensive. Teams must pay for their own travel expenses, shipping of all props to the competition as well as registration fees.

We would be so grateful for your support of our team! If you, or your business, can help sponsor our team, please mail your (tax- deductible) contribution to:

Howard Drive PTA
Odyssey of the Mind Team
7750 SW 136 St.
Miami, FL 33156
(Please write “Odyssey of the Mind” in the memo area of your check)

Gina Vinueza
Howard Drive Odyssey of the Mind Team

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