Odyssey of the Mind
is an international educational
program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members
apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own
interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and
World level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the
What makes Odyssey different?
Odyssey of the Mind is a competitive program, but it's nothing like your typical sporting event. The
competitive element encourages kids to be the best that they can be, but it's a friendly competition. Kids
learn from and even cheer on their competitors. Odyssey of the Mind is not a college bowl or a competition
about knowledge. It's all about creativity, an often overlooked element in the growth and development of
many students. Kids are rewarded more for how they apply their knowledge, skills and talents, and not for
coming up with the right answer. In fact, in Odyssey of the Mind problems, there isn't one right
How do students benefit from participation?
In Odyssey of the Mind, students learn at a young age skills that will last a lifetime. They
work in teams so they learn cooperation and respect for the ideas of others. They evaluate
ideas and make decisions on their own, gaining greater self-confidence and increased self-esteem
along the way. They work within a budget, so they learn to manage their money. They see that there’s
often more than one way to solve a problem, and that sometimes the process is more important than
the end result.
How does it work?
chools or community groups purchase a membership and form teams of up to seven students. Each team chooses
one of five competitive problems to solve. The problems appeal to a wide range of interests; some are
technical in nature, while others are artistic or performance-oriented. Under the guidance of an adult
coach, teams work on their solutions throughout the school year and, if they choose, present them in
organized competitions in the spring. The "friendly" competitive aspect encourages students to be
the best that they can be.
What are the competition levels?
n the U.S., the first level of competition is usually within a region of a state. Teams who place are invited
to compete at the state level. These championship teams are then invited to participate in the annual Odyssey
of the Mind World Finals, where they compete with teams from countries around the world, including Canada,
China, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Poland, Singapore, and Uzbekistan. New
countries join the program each year.
How are teams judged in competition?
housands of volunteers from around the world judge the competitions and serve in various positions to help
make the tournaments a success. Teams are scored for their long-term problem solution, how well they solve
a "spontaneous" problem on the spot, and "style" -- the elaboration of their long-term problem solution.
Who runs the Odyssey of the Mind?
ot-for-profit organizations administer the Odyssey of the Mind program in each participating U.S. state and
country. Each organization is run by a local Association Director. The organizations are licensed by Creative
Competitions, Inc. (CCI), which provides all of the problems and materials necessary to run training sessions
How did Odyssey of the Mind get its start?
dyssey of the Mind was created by Dr. C. Samuel Micklus
, Professor Emeritus at Rowan University in New Jersey.
In 1978, 28 New Jersey schools participated in the very first creative problem-solving competition ever.
"Dr. Sam" still develops all problems for the program, along with his son, Sammy, President of CCI.