(Randolph, New York) – On Saturday, March 14, 2015, 49 teams from across the Southern Tier will be showcasing their creativity during the Odyssey of the Mind Regional competition. Odyssey of the Mind is a world-wide creative problem-solving tournament that promotes original and divergent thinking as a team sport. Divergent problems, that is, those with more than one solution, encourage students to learn and lead the way using 21st century skills. By working in teams of up to seven members, participants learn teamwork, the appreciation and understanding of others, and the concept that a group is a more powerful thinking force than an individual.
Randolph Central School will be hosting more than 300 creative kids aged ten through eighteen years old, who will be showing off their brain power in this high-energy tournament. The winners, who will be announced at the end of the day, will represent Region 19 at the New York State Tournament at Binghamton University on April 11 and possibly World Finals at Michigan State University on May 20-23.
Teams from 14 area school districts have worked hard to come up with 8 minute solutions to one of these five mind-bending problems posed by Odyssey of the Mind:
Problem 1: Runaway 'Train'
The team’s problem is to design, build and operate one or more vehicles that will travel on tracks and make stops at different stations without touching the floor. While traveling between stations, the vehicles must overcome obstacles —moving uphill, towing something, and more. The theme of the performance will explain the vehicle’s difficulties on the track and will include a ‘conductor’ character. Once the vehicle reaches its final destination it will display a flag or banner during a victory lap!
Problem 2: Problem 2: Experiencing Technical Difficulties
The problem is to design, build, and demonstrate various devices that complete specific tasks. The team will create a theme where technical failures must be resolved through completing the tasks. There will be a list of tasks to choose from including ring a bell, change the wording on something, sound an alarm, move an object, etc. There will also be a mysterious engineer character. Of course, there’s a twist — all of the devices must be powered by rubber bands!
Problem 3: Problem 3: Pandora’s Box
In this classics problem, teams will put a video game spin on the story of Pandora’s Box. A gamer character will take on this multi-level game inspired by the Greek myth. The game will include a prologue that depicts the original story of Pandora’s Box, three characters representing different evils that escaped the box, and a power meter that represents the gamer character’s health. To beat the game, the player will advance to the final level where it will release hope into the world.
Problem 4: Problem 4: Lose Your Marbles
This problem requires teams to design, build, and test a structure, made only of balsa wood and glue, that will balance and support as much weight as possible. The structure will also hold five marbles that will be released during weight placement as a result of a team-created device removing a piece of the structure. After the crusher board and one additional weight are placed on top of the structure, the first marble will be released. After the next weight is supported, the team will use its device to release another marble, and so on. The team will incorporate weight placement and “losing your marbles” into the theme of the performance.
Problem 5: Problem 5: Silent Movie
Lights, camera...action! In this problem teams will create and present a performance depicting a Director character that produces and presents a silent movie featuring a humorous villain character that commits three silly acts of “villainy”. Characters that are in the movie may not speak as part of the presentation of the movie. Instead, like classic silent films, the team will use music played on a team-created instrument and creatively displayed subtitles to convey its story to the audience and judges. Also, teams will use a signal to indicate when the movie begins and ends.
Students have spent months of their free time solving these problems as well as developing teamwork skills, independent study, friendships, confidence, all while improving their brainstorming and problem-solving techniques. They learn new things and utilize their individual strengths to solve the problem. Teams also learn how to budget money since there is a cost limit to each problem. Throughout the day, one will witness imaginative costumes, elaborate props, dances, original songs and poetry, creative writing and much more.
Not only do the participants compete within their chosen problem, but teams must also perform well in a “spontaneous problem”, where they solve a new problem on the spot. They must be creative, quick thinking and work well together as a team.
Spectators are welcome to join in the excitement of the day. CABOCES is still recruiting volunteers. No prior experience is needed and training will be provided. Anyone interested in getting involved is encouraged to call (716) 376-8284.
Saturday, March 14 is the culmination of many months of work from students, coaches, parents and judges who all work together with the common goal of expressing creativity, supporting the arts and learning new things in a fun environment. The tournament starts at 8:30 and continues throughout the day. The Awards Ceremony begins around 3:15.
Thousands of teams from throughout the United States and 25 other countries participate in this program. For more information visit www.odysseyofthemind.com, www.nysoma.org or call CABOCES Student Programs at 716-376-8284.