(Wellsville, New York) On Saturday, March 25, 2017, 35 teams from across the Southern Tier will be showcasing their creativity at the Odyssey of the Mind Regional Tournament. 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.
Wellsville Central School will be hosting about 250 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 8 and possibly World Finals at Michigan State University on May 24-27.
Teams from 12 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: Catch Us If You Can
This is your Odyssey, should you choose to accept it! Each team will design, build, and run vehicles from a multi-level Parking Garage to a secret meeting place without being stopped. Vehicles will travel different routes to reach the same destination. During their Odyssey, the vehicles will do something that prevents them from being followed. The performance will include the reason for the meeting, someone that wants to prevent the meeting, a simulation of a scene taking place inside a vehicle as it travels, and a soundtrack to accompany the vehicles’ travel.
Problem 2: Odd-a-Bot
Teams will create a humorous story about a family that brings home an “Odd-a-Bot.” Instead of being programmed to perform tasks, this Odd-a-Bot robot learns from watching others. Teams will design, build, and operate an original robot that demonstrates human characteristics when performing tasks. In the performance, the Odd-a-Bot will move and learn human actions from watching characters perform activities such as household chores, creating art, and dancing. The Odd-a-Bot learns more than it was expected to learn, and will confuse its actions with humorous results.
Problem 3: Classics… It’s Time, OMER
The future and the past collide in this problem about important works of art – both existing and yet-to-be-created. Teams will create and present an original performance about time travelers looking to discover the inspiration for great works of art, little did they know – it was OMER every time! The travelers go back in time — twice into our past and once into our future. They will see OMER inspire two classical artists and a team-created artist from our future. The performance will include how the three works of art positively impact the world, a visual and audible effect that indicates when time travel is occurring, two re-creations of the classic works of art selected from a list, and a team-created work of art.
Problem 4: Ready, Set, Balsa, Build!
Creativity can be defined by using only what you have to get a job done. In this problem, teams will design, build, and test a structure made of only balsa wood and glue that will balance and support as much weight as possible. The structure must include sets of balsa pieces of predetermined sizes and quantities as listed in the problem. Some sets must be parts of the structure while others, if incorporated, will receive additional score – the more sets of pieces used, the higher the score! Teams will present a performance with a theme about using what’s available and that incorporates weight-placement and assembling original team creations.
Problem 5: To Be Continued: A Superhero Cliffhanger
Creativity is being taken away from the world, and it is up to Odyssey teams to rescue it! Teams will create and present a humorous performance about an unexpected superhero that encounters three different situations where it must save creativity in some way. The superhero will change appearance when it displays its superpowers and go back to blending in with society when not. The performance will also include a clumsy sidekick, a nemesis character, a choreographed battle, and a cliffhanger ending.
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) 376-8323.
Saturday, March 25 is the culmination of many months of work from students, coaches, parents and judges who all work together with the common goal of encouraging creativity, supporting the arts and learning new things in a fun environment. The competitions start at 8:20 and continue 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 716-376-8323.