How do I get an Odyssey of the Mind program started in my area?
1. One of the first (and possibly most helpful) things you can do is to share information about Odyssey of the Mind with the administrators of your school or community group. Talk to the principal about the goals and the value of Odyssey of the Mind. Get approval. Explain what might be required in terms of sending flyers home, having an Awareness Meeting one evening at the school, enlisting a faculty sponsor, and perhaps soliciting teachers to be coaches or judges at the state tournament.
2. Discuss who might finance the $135 membership fee* and whether any funds might be available to pay tournament fees or coaches’ training fees.
3. Talk to the PTA/PTSA president about Odyssey of the Mind. If funds are not available from the principal but he or she approves, ask the PTA for funding.
4. Invite interested parents, students and teachers to an Awareness Meeting to tell them about Odyssey and how to form teams. The information about this meeting can be sent by flyer, PTA newsletter and/or announcements over the PA system.
5. Recruit coaches by explaining that a team cannot be formed without a coach. (Some schools have had much success by requiring each team’s parents have some responsibility, either as coach, assistant, spontaneous coach, snack provider, etc.)
6. Have students sign up and then juggle their interests, ages, and available coaches to form teams. Ideally, all interested students should have the opportunity to participate.
7. Provide support to coaches by giving information, copies of the rules, and copies of the problems. Information about training and the state tournament will come from the association director; rules and problems are sent in a packet from the national office in New Jersey when you purchase your membership.
* This fee is per school or community group, not per team. In order to participate in Odyssey of the Mind, your school or community group MUST be registered with the national organization. Once you register, you will receive this year’s competitive problems, a program guide, a book of spontaneous practice problems, classroom activities, information on scholarships, and other materials. Your official membership also allows you to enter one team per problem per division that your students are eligible to compete in according to age and/or grade.