Odyssey of the Mind Teams Unite to Prepare for Regional Competition
November 17, 2015
Even though some of the Wakulla Odyssey of the Mind teams may be competing against each other in February, they united to help each other prepare for regional competition as over 100 students, teachers, and volunteers met on Saturday, November 14 at Riverprings Middle School to practice.
Just five years ago, Riversink Elementary School entered the first Wakulla County public school team in this international competition. From then, Odyssey of the Mind has grown to capture the interest of all the Wakulla public schools, now entering a collective 11 teams.
Fielding one team each this year are returners Shadeville Elementary, Riversink Elementary, and Crawfordville Elementary. Entering for the first time are Medart Elementary and COAST Charter School, elementary division.
Fielding two teams each are returners Riversprings Middle School and Wakulla High School, with Wakulla Middle School also entering for the first time.
Odyssey of the Mind is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1978 by Industrial Design professor Dr. Sam Micklus to encourage students to “think outside the box” in finding solutions to real-world problems they may encounter in the workforce and in their lives.
This annual competition of thousands of international teams has limitations on money that can be spent on materials and restricts coaches and parents from solving the problems for their students. All brainstorming, building, writing, sewing, and painting must be done by student teams of no more than seven members.
There are four age group divisions: Kindergarten through Grade 5; Grades 6 through 8; Grades 9 through 12; and a college division that awards scholarships.
Riversprings Middle School teacher Laura Hume organized the “Odyssey of the Mind Spontaneous Problem-Solving Fair” on November 14 and invited all the Wakulla schools fielding teams to attend.
The Spontaneous Problem-Solving component is worth one-third of the points at the Odyssey of the Mind competition. Students have to think and act quickly to come up with a solution for a problem they have never seen before, which tests their creativity and teamwork under pressure. Directions often say, "If one member is stuck, the team is stuck", so team members learn to "leave no student behind".
On November 14, Wakulla students practiced working as teams to tell a cohesive story, build the tallest and longest structures, use recycled materials in new ways, create verbal plays on words with numbers, use science vocabulary in creative ways, design a costume and dress a team member in three minutes, and come up with words to describe a picture. Problems were based on previous years’ actual Odyssey of the Mind Spontaneous Problem-Solving topics.
The other two-thirds of the points come from different long-term problems that teams are currently working on after school at their own sites. Odyssey of the Mind comes out with five long-term challenges each year and each one is being worked on by at least one school in the Wakulla School District. Students have been practicing building vehicles, creating structures out of balsa wood, writing plays, and more. They will present their final solutions at regional competition in Crestview, Florida in February.
Odyssey of the Mind team coaches are teachers Amy Seidler and Mandy Everton for Shadeville Elementary; Katrina Roddenberry, Melissa Martin, and Katie Hart for Riversink Elementary; Kendall Watson and Susan Tillman for Medart Elementary; Renee Kelly and Holly Harden for Crawfordville Elementary; Mallory Harrison and Tanya Shivers for Wakulla Middle; Laura Hume, James Daniels, Megan Crombie, and Stan Ward for Riversprings Middle; Nick Weaver for Wakulla High School; and Maribel Rivera and Arianne Morgan for COAST Charter School.
The non-profit Odyssey of the Mind organization uses trained volunteers to run all competitions. Volunteering as judges on November 14 included Wakulla County School Board member Jo Ann Daniels, Wakulla High teacher Sue Hutchins, and retired Riversink Elementary teacher Margy Callaghan.
Four Wakulla County schools’ Odyssey of the Mind teams won first or second place at regional competition in Crestview last year. Crawfordville Elementary, Riversink Elementary, Riversprings Middle, and Wakulla High teams advanced to state competition on April 11, 2015 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
Observes Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “Participating in Odyssey of the Mind competition is a great example of preparing our children for successful lives after they leave our schools. It involves thinking outside the box to problem-solve, plus it relies on teamwork to accomplish a goal. Both are vital skills in the real world.”