What is Odyssey of the Mind?

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that has been providing creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college for more than 40 years. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. Odyssey of the Mind develops team building skills, divergent thinking, presentation and organization skills. The program provides a caring, supportive environment for team members to develop positive values, self-esteem and social competencies. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.

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 answer. Ever.

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?
Schools 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.