Odyssey of the Mind: The Team Sport That Is not a Sport


There are many ways for your child to be a part of a “team” outside of traditional team sports. One incredible example of this is a program called Odyssey of the Mind (OM).


This international educational program allows students (Kindergarten through college) to work together in teams to creatively solve problems, including many STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related objectives. These teams receive the opportunity to present their work at local, state, and international competitions.


OM is the largest international problem-solving competition in the world. Teams of 5-7 students (most often in the same grade) select one of the problems created by Odyssey of the Mind, create a solution over multiple months, then present it as a team in a competition. Team members from Kindergarten through college apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They bring their solutions to competition on the regional, state and world level. SBISD schools have been participating in the program since 1994.


The quick explanation:

 ✓ Students develop team-building skills by working in groups of as many as seven students per team.

 ✓ Students learn to examine problems and to identify the real challenge without limiting the possible solutions and their potential success.

✓ The creative-thinking process is nurtured and developed as a problem-solving tool.

✓ Students of all types will find something that will appeal to them.

✓ Everything is done by the students: ideas, decisions, script, costumes, sets, vehicles…


Who Participates?


Millions of students from all different backgrounds and learning levels have participated in the Odyssey of the Mind. The creative problem-solving process rewards unconventional thinking.  Students at all levels benefit when they are encouraged to present all their ideas.  Because Odyssey of the Mind eliminates the fear of criticism, even shy students are afforded the opportunity to open and express themselves. Students also learn important teamwork skills in OotM as they form a bond to create the best solution possible! 


Making it a Competition:


Each year, five new competitive problems are presented for the teams to solve. https://www.odysseyofthemind.com/p/our-problems/.  

For students K-2 there is a noncompetitive "Primary" problem

These long-term problems are solved over weeks and months (Typically October to March. Some of the problems are more technical in nature, while others are artistic, or performance based. Each long-term problem rewards “Style” in the solution. This helps teach students that they should not simply try to solve problems but take the next step of enhancing their solutions. The teams are invited to participate in competition and present their solution with other teams.  At the competition, the teams are given an on-the-spot “spontaneous” problem to solve. The combination of long-term problem-solving, Style, and spontaneous problem-solving produces a confident, able student.


If your child is interested and/or you are interested in serving as a coach please reach out to the RCE Coordinator.


Suzi Owczarek RCE Odyssey of the Mind Coordinator suzanneowczarek@gmail.com 646-593-0780

For more information on Odyssey of the Mind: https://www.odysseyofthemind.com/

For more information on the Texas association that organizes OM competitions at the regional and state level: https://www.txodyssey.org/


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