After many months of practice, 11 teams from six district elementary and middle schools will compete in the Minnesota Odyssey of the Mind State Tournament on March 11. Odyssey of the Mind is a worldwide creative, problem-solving program, which helps students develop self-confidence, create new friendships and learn life skills.
At a tournament, working in teams of seven, students solve pre-determined problems using only their teammates and a combination of handmade props and items provided by the competition. To come up with their solutions, students employ acting, inventing and engineering skills. Leading up to the competitions at practices, students develop life skills as they uncover their strengths and learn how to work collaboratively and think strategically.
Garlough Environmental Magnet School teacher Sheryl Kasella first brought Odyssey of the Mind to the district in 2011. The fourth grade teacher believed starting this program would provide a great opportunity for students to work together.
“Odyssey of the Mind uses creativity, but it’s also about working as a team,” said Kasella. “How do the students communicate? How do they talk to each other? Judges look at that too and can take points away if teams members aren’t getting along.”
Since 2011, Odyssey of the Mind has continually grown within the district, particularly among students in the gifted and talented program. This year, there are 11 registered teams from Garlough Environmental Magnet School, Somerset Elementary School, Mendota Elementary School, Pilot Knob STEM Magnet School, Friendly Hills Middle School and Heritage E-STEM Magnet School.
The teams have spent months preparing in anticipation of the upcoming Minnesota State tournament on March 11 at Heritage Middle School. This tournament is an all-day event where teams will be judged based on their performances and overall creativity. At the competition, teams are scored for their long-term problem solution, the style of their long-term problem solution and how well they solve the spontaneous problem.
The winners of this tournament will have the opportunity to advance to World Finals held in Michigan. Students who attend World Finals get to meet people from all over the globe as they come together to compete. Kasella is hopeful some of the district teams will have an opportunity to attend this year.
With regard to the future of Odyssey of the Mind, Kasella is working hard to spread the word.
“Our goal for the future of the program is to reach all students and to get more parents and teachers involved,” said Kasella. “I would love to see students from all schools in the district participating.”
For more information about Odyssey of the Mind and details about the upcoming tournament visit Minnesota Odyssey of the Mind.