Friday, March 19, 2010

Maine Students to Celebrate Creative Odyssey

Maine’s annual Odyssey of the Mind annual state tournament will be held Saturday, March 20, at the Sanford Schools’ Route 109 Campus. This year’s tournament is especially significant as Maine Adventures in Creativity, sponsors of Odyssey of the Mind, is not only celebrating its 10th year as sponsor of the Odyssey of the Mind program in Maine but also has the honor of welcoming Odyssey’s founder, Dr. Samuel Micklus, to join in the festivities. Odyssey of the Mind has challenged students in Maine to work collaboratively, to use divergent thinking skills, and to think “outside the box” for 28 years.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. This year over 700 Maine students on teams from as far south as Kittery, York, Wells, Sanford, Kennebunk, Waterboro, Acton, and all the way up to Dover-Foxcroft, to name just a few, will be performing. Performances will begin at 8 a.m. and run until approximately 3 p.m., and will take place at Sanford High School, Sanford Junior High School and the Memorial Gym. Closing Ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Memorial Gym.
In Odyssey of the Mind, students learn at a young age skills that will last a lifetime. Students 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. Students also work within a budget, so they learn to manage their money. Under the guidance of an adult coach, teams work on their solutions throughout the school year and present them in competitions in the spring. The friendly contest encourages students to be the best that they can be. Students not only see that there is often more than one way to solve a problem but that sometimes the process is more important than the end result.
Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building technical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. Each year the problems are creative and diverse and this year’s selection is no exception. Join the “Nature Trail’R” as teams design, build and drive a human-powered vehicle and camper that will go on a camping trip but not without encountering a few obstacles along the way. You may also witness the “Gift of Flight” as teams make and operate a series of aircraft that will complete a variety of flight plans. Experience the excitement of “Discovered Treasures” as teams create and present an original performance that includes the portrayal of the discovery of two archaeological treasures. Marvel at the skills on display at “Column Structure” as teams design and build balsa wood columns that balance and support as much weight as possible. If you get hungry you can always stop by “Food Court” and enjoy a humorous performance where a food item is accused of being unhealthy and must defend itself among its food peers. Not to be left out, our primary teams, comprised of students from kindergarten through second grade, will be presenting a humorous performance that includes a “Surprise Party” for a team-created character.
Teams will be judged by a group of trained volunteers who award points based upon originality, creativity, and several other factors. Teams also bring their solutions to competition on the World stage. Thousands of teams from throughout the United States and about 25 countries from around the world participate in the program. This year, Maine’s qualifying state teams advance to World Finals competition being help May 26th through 29th at Michigan State University.
The Odyssey of the Mind competition originated in Glassboro, New Jersey when Dr. Micklus, a professor of industrial design at the former Glassboro State College, now Rowan University, first challenged his students to build a vehicle that could cross a pond on campus. “Dr. Sam,” as he’s affectionately known in Odyssey circles, motivated his students to create vehicles without wheels, mechanical pie throwers and flotation devices that would take them across a course on the water. He evaluated them not on the success of their solutions, but on the ingenuity applied and the risk involved in trying something new and different. Students enjoyed the exercise. Word quickly spread and the activities attracted public interest. In 1978, 28 New Jersey schools participated in the very first creative problem-solving competition and Odyssey of the Mind was born. “Dr. Sam” still develops all problems for the program, along with his son, Sammy, President of the organization.
Join Maine Adventures in Creativity in commemorating their 10-year partnership with Odyssey of the Mind and welcoming “Dr. Sam” to this year’s tournament. MAC looks forward to many more years of creative problem solving in Maine and invites one and all from Odyssey alumni, supporters, old friends, and potential new members to this year’s tournament. Come, celebrate, and see what all of the excitement is about.