Odyssey of the Mind Curriculum Activity:
Objective:   Learn about geometry through observation and practice by incorporating applied learning in a game atmosphere and by hands-on experimentation.
Students will learn: Geometric shape properties and measurements, teamwork, and publication layout.

Prep Time

1 hour

--I ndividual
-- Class
-- Teams

Paper and pencils
Prizes (optional)
Building supplies
Items to create a color booklet e.g., crayons, colored markers, paints, computer & color printer, etc.
Activity 1
Draw samples of geometric shapes on the board and discuss them with the class. Present the students with the definition of each shape and one example of each in use. Then ask the students to brainstorm as many applications of each shape as possible. Ask the class to research and find additional geometric shapes, then to present their findings to the class. You can make this a contest with rewards for the number of shapes that each student discovers and a grand prize for the student who lists the most shapes.

Activity 2
Discuss the properties of shapes selected to meet the students' learning level. Explain methods used to measure these shapes. Divide the class into teams of four students and ask each to create a treasure map for the other teams to follow. The hints on the map will incorporate shapes and their measurements. Review the maps and verify their accuracy. Each team should have a copy of the other teams' maps and should hide a set of treasures so there is one for the other teams to find and collect. Let the teams follow the treasure maps so no two are on the same trail at the same time and see if they can find the treasures. As a class, discuss the different maps and hints to determine which were the most fun, creative, common, difficult to figure out, etc.

Activity 3
Ask the class to research the world's tallest structures in order to examine the shapes contained in their construction. Discuss the findings and identify the three most prevalent shapes not including straight "lines," such as beams. Then, divide the class into three groups and ask each to use its findings to build the tallest structure possible. One group must use only the most prevalent shape, the next must use the two most prevalent, and the third must use all three of the most prevalent shapes. The shapes may be repeated as many times as the groups wish, but may not be gratuitous attachments.

All structures must be made of the same lightweight material such as paper, balsa wood, straws, etc., and a material that can connect the components. Each structure must rest entirely within its 12" square, but may use any amount of the material in its solution. Measure the solutions and ask the students to draw a conclusion from its observation. Consider which shape had the most impact? Is a mix of shapes more important than using only one shape?

Follow up this activity by challenging students to find and record repeated patterns of shapes in nature and where they were found. Discuss the findings and compare them with the findings from human construction found in research and in the structures. As a class, create a flip through booklet that shows a shape on one side and an example of where it can be found in nature on the opposite page. Share the booklet with young students to see if it helps them learn about shapes.