Odyssey of the Mind is an international scholastic competition in which students from kindergarten through college work to creatively solve problems in six divisions. Students were presented with a series of problems for which they had months to prepare solutions. Some categories involved building a bridge or car while other divisions presented problems to be solved in the form of skits.
Eleven Brentwood schools sent 31 teams to the regional competition on Feb. 28 at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill, and teams from Brentwood, Loma Vista, Garin, Krey and Marsh Creek elementary schools, Adams and Edna Hill middle schools and Heritage High School have advanced to the next level of competition.
For a complete list of Regional winners, click here.
Susan Wallace, parent-coach of one of the Brentwood Elementary teams, said the students who participate in Odyssey of the Mind get to explore their creativity and develop skills they can use in the real world. Teams of seven students are assigned a coach to help them talk through their problem, but the coach is prohibited from providing solutions to the problem or helping build or design any component to solve the problem.
“The kids pick which problem they want to solve and then they figure out how they want to solve it,” said Wallace. “It’s all kid generated. They come up with the idea and then they practice and go through trial and error to see what works. It’s a great program because there is no one way to solve the problem. It’s so fun to see what they come up with.”
Joy Towse, a parent and Odyssey coach for two teams from Loma Vista, said the Odyssey experience is rewarding for all who participate.
“The competition is excellent for all students because they get to practice life skills and think outside the box,” Towse said. “There is a great emphasis on cooperation and sportsmanship and it’s a great opportunity for students to learn how to work together.
“You’ve got seven personalities working together to solve a problem, and that can be a difficult situation, but these kids have to learn to work together. As a hands-on parent, it is hard not to jump in and help when they get stuck, but that’s all part of the experience. They talk it out and try different things and find a way to achieve their goal in their own way, and they come up with things that adults would never think of. It’s amazing how creative these kids are.”
Teams who placed first through third at regionals were invited to participate in the state competition, to be held April 3 at Heritage High School, 101 American Ave. in Brentwood. The event start time was not scheduled as of press time.
For more information about the competition, visit Odyssey of the Mind. Winners from the state competition will advance to the world competition at Iowa State University in May, when competitors from the United States will go up against students from Japan, China, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Singapore and Poland.