Odyssey of the Mind in Randolph

Kump Education Center is sponsoring Odyssey of the Mind [OM] creative problem solving teams from Randolph County Schools for the 2018-19 school year. OM team members work together to solve a long-term problem to be presented in competition with other teams. The Region 11 Competition will be held March 9, 2019 at West Potomac High School, Keyser.

Creative problem solving competitions have been part of the curriculum at MIT and other fine engineering schools for many years, but it first came to public schools in Glassboro, New Jersey as Olympics of the Mind in 1978. The International Olympic Committee had a trademark copyright and objected to any other uses of the word Olympics except the Special Olympics for handicapped athletes.

When I taught high school in Norcross, Georgia, we hosted the first state Odyssey of the Mind competition in Georgia c. 1985.

We took a creative problem solving team to the national OM competition in Flagstaff, Arizona.

That team built a 15 gram balsa wood bridge that could hold over 500 pounds. At the competition each team had to set their bridge between two blocks and lower weights down a pole that stood up through the center of the bridge. When the weights became too much for the little bridges, they would shatter into pieces.

My students built and destroyed many a balsa bridge. It was one of the best hands-on learning and team-building activities I ever experienced, and I believe it is a great way to teach persistence.

2019 OM problems:

1. “Omer to the Rescue Again” (vehicles),

2. “Hide in Plain Sight” (camouflage),

3. “Leonardo’s Workshop” (art classics),

4. “Structure Toss” (building balsa wood),

5. “Opposites Distract” (debate/drama), Primary Grades only “Museum Makers.” Competition grade levels are K-5, 6-8, 9-12, and collegiate.

We are just starting to offer OM in Randolph County, and we have teachers or mentors willing to be coaches in Harmon, Tygart Valley, Elkins Middle, and North School. We need volunteers who are interested in helping the teams in a variety of ways.

The regional competition will be held at West Potomac High School in Keyser on Saturday, March 9.

Each team must have a coach and a judge for the competition.

Call 304-637-7820 if you think you might like to work with a team. Coaches will meet at Kump Education Center at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12.