Brought to you by Delaware Creative Activities and Problem Solving

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  What is Odyssey of the Mind?
A.   Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving competition for students of all ages. Teams of students select a problem, create a solution, then present their solution in a competition against other teams in the same problem and division.

Q. What is Delaware Odyssey of the Mind?
A.  Creative Opportunities Unlimited Inc. (DELCAPS) is an all-volunteer, IRS 501c3 organization that offers the Odyssey of the Mind creative problem solving program and a tournament experience to young people in Vermont. We value creativity, team work, and appreciation and understanding of others.

Q. What are the benefits?
A: Benefits include: Develop creative thinking abilities and divergent problem-solving skills. Increase student ability to apply known principles and facts to “hands-on” situations; Improve communication skills. Learn to plan, organize and set long-range goals. Learn how to use a creative problem solving process while being encouraged to take risks. Develop and utilize skills of all team members; gain sensitivity and experience with group dynamics. Develop and use local resources. Develop and use research skills. Exercise and use the higher order thinking and critical thinking skills, especially analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Have fun while learning all of these very important skills Learning to take risks allows the students to become more self-confident and independent thus making successes and defeats easier to place in perspective. Experiences with OotM problems prepare students to solve real-life problems using specific skills and behaviors.

Q. What is needed to work on an Odyssey of the Mind problem?
A.  To solve a problem, teams must follow the general rules in the Program Guide, limitations in selected Long-Term Problem, and any clarifications issued during the year. The rules in this guide pertain to all the problems; any conflicting problem limitations supersede these rules, and clarifications issued throughout this program year supersede the rules and the problem limitations.

Q.  What do you mean by Long-Term Problem?
A.   There are five types of Long-Term Problems available for competitive teams to try that focus in different interest areas: vehicle, technical, classical, structural, and theatrical. A separate problem is available for Primary (K-2) teams.  The Long-Term Problems are solved by the team working together to brainstorm, construct, and present the solution.

Q. Who may participate?
A. Teams of children from kindergarten through college-age participate. All receive the same problems; however, their solutions vary – not simply because of age grouping but mostly due to the innovation and imagination of the creators.

Q. How are teams formed?
A. There are many ways for teams to form. Often teams are formed in their classrooms; teachers can assist in assembling teams. Also, problems can be posted and students sign up for the problem they find most interesting, thus creating teams who want to solve the same problem, not necessarily classmates or friends. While most members are individual schools, home schoolers and community-based programs also participate.

Q.  How many students on a team?
A.   Teams are usually composed of 5-7 members (never more than 7) working under the guidance of an adult coach.

Q.  What are the age divisions?
A.   The division a team is in is based upon the grade/age of the oldest student on the team.
Primary teams (K-2) may solve  the non-competitive Primary problem only
Division I (Grades K-5, on May 1, 2015),
Division II (Grades 6-8, on May 1, 2015),
Division III (High School)
Division IV (College)

Q.  How long does it take?
A.   Teams spend weeks or months, at their own pace, creating solutions to long-term problems. Some teams meet for an hour or two weekly, others meet every other week. The schedule is determined by the interest and availability of the coach and team members.

Q.  How much does it cost?
A.   The international membership fee is $135. This membership covers several teams within a school or group. 

The costs for this program are very minimal – the program is staffed and run by volunteers. International memberships are $135 (a membership is typically an individual school). Delaware State tournament fee is now $100 per TEAM (not per membership). In addition, teams must cover the other costs include materials of solving the Long‑Term Problem and practicing spontaneous problem, however this is normally minimal due to use of school, household, or recycled items, and is also limited to the cost limit of each problem. Each problem has a maximum dollar value of what can be included at time of competition (between $125 and $150). Cost requirement is described in detail in the membership packet and Program Guide.  The Program Guide is at the bottom of the home page of http://www.odysseyofthemind.com while the membership packet is mailed out in September to those who have already purchased their membership.  You may also enter the Member’s Area on the national website after purchasing your membership.

Q.  What is a Membership Coordinator?
A.   Each school or group has one person designated as a “Membership Coordinator”.  This person serves as a point of contact in your local program, and may help teams to organize, choose a Long-Term Problem, and find coaches.  The membership package is shipped to this person.

Q.  Who actually does the work?
A.   Team members come up with all the ideas for their solution and do all the work themselves. Coaches can assist with organization, scheduling, teaching needed skills, and practicing spontaneous.

Q. Who may coach?
A. Each team must have a coach, who may be a parent, teacher, teacher aid, administrator or other interested adult (18 or older).

Q. What is the role of a coach?
a. Coaches facilitate the team’s needs (meeting place, transportation, review of program rules, etc), but the students do all the work! The coach keeps the team on task, encourages them to be creative and work as a team, but does not provide assistance to the solution of the problem. More detailed guidance will be sent as part of the membership package and program guide once the national membership dues are paid. As a coach, you will be honored and entertained while keeping your team on track. Teams tend to meet a couple of hours once every 1 or 2 weeks in the fall, then may increase the time or frequency as the tournament nears.

Q. What is the teacher’s role?

Teachers are sometimes coaches, co-coaches, campus coordinators, or simply “cheerleaders” of the program. They may also be trained to judge the tournament/s.

Q. Is there training for coaches?
A. Training for coaches occurs in October. See Event Dates for date/venue  Coach training is required for new coaches.

Q. What are the Odyssey of the Mind problems?
A. All participating teams are given the choice of the same five long term problems to solve though these problems change from year to year. Part of the long term problem includes style which enhances the solution through costumes, props scenery, drama, etc. The problems usually include a “vehicle” problem, a mechanical problem, a “classics” problem, a balsa wood structure problem and a strictly dramatic problem. The team of seven members selects from the five given problems and after working for several months on the solution, presents it at the local regional tournament. At this time, the students will compete against other teams solving the same problem in their age division. The teams are also given spontaneous problems to solve the day of the tournament. These problems also foster creativity and teamwork. Their solution involves a form of brainstorming. Though teams may practice for this segment, they do not know the problem ahead of time.

Q. How are the teams scored at the tournaments?
A. There are three portion of the team score as the following:
Long Term Portion The long-term portion of an OotM problem is always open-ended yet with specific design specifications and monetary limitations. It affords the student with the opportunity to brainstorm, research, plan, create and evaluate. This portion of the problem is solved during a two to three month period prior to the presentation at the state tournament. It is worth 200 out of the total 350 points.
Style Portion The style portion of an OotM problem encourages students to develop unique presentations for their long-term solutions. Style is designed as a creative addition or elaboration to the presentation of the problem’s solution, which elates to, but is not required to solve the problem. Examples include art work, costumes, props, songs, acting, dancing, scenery and elaborate school signs. It is worth 50 out of the total 350 points. This score will be shared with the team after their long term performance.
Spontaneous Portion Spontaneous problems are based on the concept of fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration in thinking. Quantity of responses is important and unusual ideas are encouraged. 
Spontaneous problems are given to teams on the day of the tournament to challenge the teams’ ability to “think on their feet”. Some require verbal responses to a given question, some require hands-on solutions and some combine both. It is worth 100 out of the total 350 points. This score will NOT be shared with the team after their spontaneous problem.

Please note: Excellent Spontaneous problem might be reuse time to time. Team is agreed to DO NOT ASK, DO NOT TELL policy and can NOT discuss spontaneous problem outside team members. Team might be charged for unsportsmanlike conduct and board may as hefty point penalty.

Q.  How do I learn more about coaching?
A.   Attend one of the several coaches training sessions held around the state in October-November each year, or, if you cannot attend, ask for our Coaches Training DVD, or do Coaches Training on-line.  Coaches Training is not required, but is very helpful.

Q.  How can my child get on a team?
A.   Teams are organized at the individual schools or by local groups. Contact your school to see if they have a team or about starting a team.

Q.  How much time does a team have to present their Long-Term Problem solution at a tournament?
A.   Teams have 8 minutes to present their Long-Term Problem solution in competition. This includes setup time.

Q.  How are the teams judged?
A.   Teams are judged in three categories: Long-Term Problem solution, Style during their Long-Term performance, and Spontaneous problem solving.  Judges are training to observe and score particular parts of the solution.

Q.  How are teams scored?
A.   Teams are scored for meeting the requirements of the problem and for creativity in categories specific to each problem. There is a section on scoring in each Long-Term Problem.  Teams also present an elaboration (theme) for their Long-Term performance, termed Style.  On the day of competition teams are also presented a Spontaneous problem and must solve it.   Team scores are adjusted so that the highest scoring team receives 200 points for Long-Term, 100 points for Spontaneous and 50 points for Style.

Q.  How is team ranking determined at a tournament?
A.   A team’s standing in competition is determined by its combined adjusted Long-Term score, Style score, and Spontaneous score.  Teams ranked 1st and 2nd in each Long-Term Problem and Division, as well as teams receiving a Ranatra Fusca Creativity Award, are invited to attend World Finals.

Q.  What is World Finals?
A.    The Odyssey of the Mind World Finals is the culmination of each Odyssey of the Mind season.  Teams from Odyssey of the Mind Associations from throughout the U.S. and several countries attend to compete.  The Odyssey of the Mind World Finals will be held alternative location at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan OR Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, after 3week of May for 4 days.

Q.  How many tournaments are there in Delaware?
A.   Regional tournaments are usually held in February and March. Currently there are three regions in Delaware (River, Bay and Ocean), and there is only one State Finals Tournament.  When growth warrants, we will begin offering two concurrent Regional Tournaments.  At that point, several top ranking teams from each Regional will advance to the State Tournament, which will be held about two weeks after last Regional.

Q.  When is the State Tournament?
A.   State Tournaments are in March or April. The 35th Delaware State Odyssey of the Mind Tournament was held on Saturday, March 28th, 2015, at University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware.
The Odyssey of the Mind year culminates with World Finals, where the best of the best match wits, imaginations and personalities to become world champions!