Q. What is Odyssey of the Mind?

A. Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem‐solving competition for students of all ages. Teams of students select a problem, create a solution, then present their solution in a competition against other teams in the same problem and division.

Q. What is Tennessee Odyssey of the Mind?

A. Tennessee Odyssey of the Mind is a non-profit organization that provides competitions in creative problem solving for Kindergarten-college students throughout Tennessee. We value creativity, team work, and appreciation and understanding of others.

Q. How much does it cost?

A. International membership – $290.00. This membership covers several teams within a school or group. In addition, teams must cover the cost of solving the Long‐Term Problem, Most problems are limited by rules to under $150, however costs are normally minimal due to use of school, household, or recycled items.Note: There are additional costs for teams that qualify for the International competition.  These include: registration, room and board, and travel costs and cannot be calculated at this time. Fundraising may be necessary to raise funds for teams that qualify for the World Finals.

Q. What is needed to work on an Odyssey of the Mind problem?

A. To solve a problem, teams must follow the general rules in the Program Guide, limitations in selected Long‐Term Problem, and any clarifications issued during the year. The rules in this guide pertain to all the problems; any conflicting problem limitations supersede these rules, and clarifications issued throughout this program year supersede the rules and the problem limitations.

Q. What do you mean by Long‐Term Problem?

A. There are five types of Long‐Term Problems available for competitive teams to try that focus in different interest areas: vehicle, technical, classical, structural, and theatrical. A separate problem is available for Primary (K‐2) teams. The Long‐Term Problems are solved by the team working together to brainstorm, construct, and present the solution.

Q. What is a “Spontaneous” problem?

A. Spontaneous problems are given to the teams on the day of the competition and may involve verbal or hands-on abilities. A typical verbal problem might be to name as many types of keys as possible. Students are given more points for creative responses than ordinary ones. A creative response might be “key to a test,” or “musical key” or even “monKEY” while “car key” would be considered a common response. Teams are give a couple of minutes to think and a couple of minutes to give responses. A hands-on problem might ask the team to build a structure using materials such as straws, spaghetti and marshmallows that is of a certain height and can bear weight. Points might be given for the number of heavy objects the structure might hold with bonus points for additional height.

Q. How many students on a team?

A. Teams are usually composed of 5‐7 members (never more than 7) working under the guidance of an adult coach.

Q. What are the age divisions?

A. The division a team is in is based upon the grade/age of the oldest student on the team.

  • Division I — Grades K-5 (U.S.)
  • Division II — Grades 6-8 (U.S.)
  • Division III (Grades 9-12) (U.S.)
  • Division IV — Collegiate for ALL TEAMS. All team members must have a high school diploma or its equivalent and be enrolled in at least one course at a two- or four-year college or university.

Q. How long does it take?

A. Teams spend weeks or months, at their own pace, creating solutions to long‐term problems. Some teams meet for an hour or two weekly, others meet every other week. The schedule is determined by the interest and availability of the coach and team members.

Q. What is a Membership Coordinator?

A. Each school or group has one person designated as a “Membership Coordinator”. This person serves as a point of contact in your local program, and may help teams to organize, choose a Long‐Term Problem, and find coaches. The membership package is shipped to this person.

Q. Who actually does the work?

A. Team members come up with all the ideas for their solution and do all the work themselves. Coaches can assist with organization, scheduling, teaching needed skills, and practicing spontaneous.

Q. How do I learn more about coaching?

A. Attend one of the several coaches training sessions held in October‐December each year, or, if you cannot attend, there is a Coaches Training DVD, or do Coaches Training on‐line. Coaches Training is not required, but is very helpful.

Q. How can my child get on a team?

A. Teams are organized at the individual schools or by local groups. Contact your school to see if they have a team or about starting a team.

Q. How much time does a team have to present their Long‐Term Problem solution at a tournament?

A. Teams have 8 minutes to present their Long‐Term Problem solution in competition. This includes setup time.

Q. How are the teams judged?

A. Teams are judged in three categories: Long‐Term Problem solution, Style during their Long‐Term performance, and Spontaneous problem solving. Judges are training to observe and score particular parts of the solution.

Q. How are teams scored?

A. Teams are scored for meeting the requirements of the problem and for creativity in categories specific to each problem. There is a section on scoring in each Long‐Term Problem. Teams also present an elaboration (theme) for their Long‐Term performance, termed Style. On the day of competition, teams are also presented a Spontaneous problem and must solve it. Team scores are adjusted so that the highest scoring team receives 200 points for Long‐Term, 100 points for Spontaneous and 50 points for Style.

Q. How is team ranking determined at a tournament?

A. A teams’ standing in competition is determined by its combined adjusted Long‐Term score, Style score, and Spontaneous score. Teams ranked 1st and 2nd in each Long‐Term Problem and Division, as well as teams receiving a Ranatra Fusca Creativity Award, are invited to attend World Finals.

Q. What is World Finals?

A. The Odyssey of the Mind World Finals is the culmination of each Odyssey of the Mind season. Teams from Odyssey of the Mind Associations from throughout the U.S. and several countries attend to compete. The next Odyssey of the Mind World Finals will be held at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.

Q. How many tournaments are there in Tennessee?

A. Currently there is one region in Tennessee. There will be no Regional Tournaments and every team competing will go straight to the State Tournament.

Q. When is the State Tournament?

A. Based on the number of teams at the moments, teams will have the option of attending larger tournaments in neighboring states (Kentuck and North Carolina)

Q. Who do I contact if I have more questions or want to get started?

A. Contact Allen Ball, Tennessee Odyssey of the Mind Association Director, to get help with Awareness Sessions, Coaches Trainings, or to register a membership.

3 Responses to FAQ

  1. Lenora Shelton says:

    I was wondering if there are any schools in brentwood, and franklin that have odyssey teams? Thank you. Lenora Shelton

  2. Ashley says:

    I would like a team in the Nashville Metro area too. Any inquiries from Julia Green or Percy Priest Elementary School? Any inquiries from Middle schools like JT Moore or Meigs?

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