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Getting Started

Interested parents or teachers often arrange an introduction at their school by contacting their Regional Director and inviting other interested parents, teachers, and students to the introduction. Another great way to learn about Odyssey is for interested parents, teachers, and students to attend one of the Regional compeitions or State Finals.

Based on the interest created in the introduction students and parents decide to start a program with perhaps one to five teams of five to seven students. In addition to team members each team would need one or two adult coach volunteers.

A school or community group focused on children may start a program, with Odyssey of the Mind membership. The complete rules for teams, age groups, and membership requirements are at the CCI web: www.OdysseyOfTheMind.com

With an Odyssey membership teams from a school can enter one team each problem for each division. A community group with a membership can enter one team per problem. Often a program starts with one or two teams and expands as interest grows from year to year. In Florida interest in some schools has grown to the point that a single school has multiple memberships.

In addition to the Odyssey Membership, each team which intends to compete must register with Florida Odyssey of the Mind (FLOMA) and the organization needs to register a coordinator with FLOMA to receive our information.

Each year FLOMA holds Coach and Judge training sessions, with special attention given to sessions for new coaches. Frequently experienced Coaches and Board Members volunteer to provide advice and support to new programs and coaches.

Common Questions About Odyssey and Starting Programs

How is Odyssey an Educational Program?

Odyssey teaches students a number of skills which are difficult to teach in the regular classroom setting. Among the many skills they learn and attributes of Odyssey are:

  • Team Building - students learn responsibility in and to the group through attendance, assignments placed on them by the team, giving and receiving positive criticism, interdependence of the team members and much more.
  • Confidence - negative criticism is not allowed, free flow of ideas is encouraged and leadership comes from within the group. Students learn to set their own timelines and goals and determine their own definition of success.
  • Student Centered - "outside assistance" is a common phrase used in Odyssey. All solutions must come from the team members. Adults are guides, resource people, referees and friends but they are not leaders or solution people. Students take great pride in what they have developed using their own "solution" and generally reject solution ideas offered by "helpful" adults.
  • Interdisciplinary - Odyssey of the Mind teaches students to use all the curricula areas. Each problem solution involves reading, critical analysis, music, costuming, research, script writing, props building, budgeting, time management and prioritizing, as well as many others.
  • Brainstorming - this skill is one that incorporates the successful implementation of all those listed above. Students must learn to listen carefully to both the problem presented as well as the solutions offered by teammates. They must stockpile answers in their head while filtering and sorting them for those that have been used by others and those which are less creative. It is multi-tasking at a very high level.

How Would Odyssey Work in My School?

There are as many ways to develop an Odyssey model as there are schools.

Some schools use Odyssey of the Mind as part of their talented and gifted program, others use it to integrate the many levels of educational capabilities within their school. Some choose to gear the teams to "take it all the way" with an emphasis on winning as you would with a sports team, other choose to run it as a casual after-school club with performance as the focus, not competition. And, there are many models in-between, all are correct and need to be structured in a way that is most appropriate for your school and students.

Who runs Odyssey of the Mind?

Creative Competitions, Inc. (CCI), the headquarters of international organization is located in Gloucester City, New Jersey. It is at this level that the "problems" are distributed to the 22 countries and 50 states. CCI is also the sponsor of the World Finals competition.

On the state level FLOMA is managed by a State Association Director and Board of Directors.

On the local level, teams are generally coached by volunteers who meet with students in after school settings. This varies from school to school, as some schools use Odyssey of the Mind as part of their curriculum.

How Do We Get Involved?

Schools send a membership application and fee to the New Jersey office and in return receive:

  • a list of the current year’s problems for all ages and divisions
  • a program rule book
  • additional curriculum materials
  • training materials
  • a school program handbook
  • information on college scholarships available to Odyssey members

Getting started and development assistance is provided by FLOMA through the State Director, The Board of Directors and regular mailings to member schools. If you are interested in having your child participate, or in participating yourself, in Odyssey of the Mind, it is necessary to join at the national level first by completing the registration form and submitting the required fee. This information is available on the national Odyssey of the mind website. Once your school has registered with the national office, then you should check the list of Regional Directors listed on the Florida Odyssey of the Mind website and contact that person assigned to the county in which you live. In order to learn of upcoming training sessions, meetings and other important information you need to make contact with the local Regional Director in your area.

Original content developed by Connecticut Odyssey of the Mind (CTOM), modified with permission.

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