2018-2019 will be our school’s ninth year participating in Odyssey of the Mind (OM). OM is the largest worldwide creative problem-solving competition for children from kindergarten through college. OM’s mission is to foster the development of creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
Each year, SACO pays for our school’s membership in the program. This allows SRCSA to have up to 10 competitive teams and as many primary (K-2) teams as desired; teams then pay a small amount to register their individual team. SACO’s OM Program Coordinator is the conduit for communication between the local OM organization, our school, and the team coaches. Also, the Coordinator serves as a resource to new coaches. While at many schools teachers lead the OM program, we are very lucky to have SRCSA parent and Odyssey veteran Kerri Izen filling this key role so that our school can participate!
The Odyssey of the Mind program is 100% volunteer run, and each team of 5 to 7 kids needs a coach, typically a parent volunteer! Coaching is not an insignificant time commitment but it can be a very rewarding experience. The OM coordinator is available to support communication between prospective coaches and team members, but ultimately coaches decide their team’s members.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Odyssey of the Mind?
Imagine a combination of theater and problem solving with a creative twist. Through the writing of original scripts, the creation of costumes, props, scenery, and technical elements, teams of students work together to produce incredible solutions to creative problems. Students with talents in many areas find a unique opportunity to showcase their gifts in script writing, costume creation, music, dance, visual arts, props and scenery construction, engineering, problem solving, leadership, critical thinking, and more!
Who can participate in OM?
With our school’s membership in OM, we can have 10 teams for grades 3 through 8—the limitation is that each of the five problems can only be assigned to one Division I (grades 3-5) and one Division II (grades 6-8) team. We can have unlimited primary teams (grades K-2). All students are welcome to participate in OM, but each team needs a volunteer coach and for the past several years, we have more interested participants than coaches.
How do I learn more about the OM program at our school?
Parents of prospective participants, and their students, are encouraged to attend the Informational Meeting scheduled for September 19, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the MPR. The purpose of the meeting is to provide a brief overview of the OM program, explain how OM works at SRCSA, share the new long-term problems, and hear from several veteran coaches about their experiences leading teams. At SRCSA, team formation is led by coaches with support from the OM Coordinator. The best way to ensure your student’s participation is to sign up to coach!
How much does it cost to participate in OM?
SACO pays the national ($135) and state ($75) membership fees. Each team is responsible for paying their team’s regional tournament fee, which is $65/team for grades 3-8 and $45/team for grades K-2. Coaches may request $20+ from each team member in order to purchase materials for practices, and teams often share snack responsibilities. With five to seven team members, the cost per student participant is typically around $50.
How much time does it take to participate in OM?
This is an individual team decision, but most teams begin meeting in October and continue until the Regional Tournament in late February (and beyond, if they advance past Regionals). Most teams start out meeting once or sometimes twice a week. Many teams meet from 1½-2 hours per meeting, depending on age and frequency of meetings. As the Odyssey season progresses, most teams will have lengthier work sessions to finish up props, backdrops, costumes, and so forth. A couple of extended work sessions (three day weekends) in January and February are customary. All meetings must be at the convenience of the coach and their team, of course! Parents of participants are required to complete volunteer hours at the tournament.
I’m interested in being a coach. But I’ve never done it before. How do I learn more?
We are lucky that the Redwood Region, which extends all the way north to the Oregon border and south to encompass Marin County, is largely based in Santa Rosa. Each year, the Region offers coach trainings on Saturdays in October and November. The Redwood Region provides a ton of information about Odyssey of the Mind on their web page. If you are interested in more information, please visit: http://redwoodomer.org/
Are there other ways to help SRCSA’s OM program?
Yes! Thanks for asking. Coaches will be looking for practice spaces and we count on SRCSA’s teachers to share their classrooms after school. Also, each coach-led team has to provide a volunteer judge to participate in the Regional Tournament. This volunteer is ideally not the coach or a parent of a team member since the volunteer will be working during the entire tournament (8:00ish – 3:00ish). If you’re looking for volunteer hours to support our school, this is a great way to earn a large chunk. More information at the Information Meeting or contact OM Program Coordinator Kerri at firstname.lastname@example.org.