On May 24, teams from Mt. Bethel Elementary School, Dickerson Middle School and Walton High School will be headed to Michigan State University to compete for a 3-day competition in the 2017 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. After achieving high scores at Georgia regional competitions in February and March, these five teams placed First or Second in their problem and division at the Georgia state competition held at Columbus State University on April 1.
More than 800 teams from 20+ countries, including China, India, Mexico, and Russia are expected to compete this year. Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem solving program for students ranging in age from kindergarten through college. Students work in teams of up to seven members to solve problems using “out of the box” thinking and creative skills for high scores. They compete at the Regional, State and World level against teams in their respective divisions, which are divided by grade. Primary Teams (K-2) are not eligible for the State or World competitions.
The teams will compete this year in three problem areas: Dickerson will compete in a balsa wood structure problem – their 15-gram structure held 580 pounds at the State competition. A second Dickerson team and a Walton team will travel back in time to discover the creative genius behind major works of art. The Mt. Bethel and second Walton team have created superheroes and sidekicks to battle the evil that is trying to steal creativity from the world with a cliffhanger ending.
Modeled after interscholastic sports, an Odyssey of the Mind competition combines the excitement of an athletic event with fun-filled zany mental gymnastics. Teams prepare for many months on both their long term problem solution and “on the spot” spontaneous problems that are part of the competition as well. Scores are weighted toward creative solutions. Although teams have coaches, outside assistance is strictly forbidden. Students can take full credit for their work.
The Odyssey of the Mind program dates back to the 1970s with its founder, Dr. C. Samuel Micklus, an innovative Industrial Design professor at Rowan University in New Jersey. Micklus challenged his students to use their creativity to solve unique problems, like building a vehicle without wheels, designing a mechanical pie thrower and others, as part of his course. The program evolved into a worldwide organization that presents five problems each year with emphasis on various creative skills, such as creating structures from balsa wood, designing vehicles with non-traditional power sources or twisting the classics.
Please consider a donation to help pay for these students’ transportation to and from Michigan State University and their room and board in the dorms. If interested, please visit www.gofundme.com/waltonodysseyworld. Your generous contribution will be shared between the teams so every student can participate. Thank you for helping get these creative minds to World Finals! For more information about the The Odyssey of the Mind program, please visit: www.WaltonOdysseyWorld.com.
This article originally appeared in the May issue of the EAST COBBER magazine, on page 12. Click HERE to access the digital edition.