Odyssey of the Mind Awareness

So you want to start an Odyssey of the Mind Program… Great! You only need two things: Knowledge and Action!



National Organization: Odyssey of the Mind Program
c/o Creative Competitions, Inc. (CCI)
406 Ganttown Road Sewell, NJ 08080

Awareness Video: A Creative Experience (video)

Local Organization: Buccaneer Bay Odyssey of the Mind


  • Regional Director: Mandy Pope or (863) 944-3467
  • Counties: Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee, Hardee & Desoto

For information about scheduling an information session for your school, contact Mandy Pope at the email address above.


  1. Odyssey of the Mind: Odyssey of the Mind is an international, creative problem-solving program for students in kindergarten through college, founded in 1978 by Dr. Sam Micklus, Professor Emeritus, Glassboro State College, New Jersey. Today, hundreds of thousands of students in all of the fifty states and over thirty countries participate in the annual programs.
  2. Creative Problem Solving: Teams of students, under the guidance of a coach, pool their diverse talents to find innovative solutions to the annual long-term problems. Problems may involve building mechanical devices such as spring-driven cars or giving their own portrayals of classical literature.
  3. Annual National Membership: A school or community organization may purchase a national membership (Annual National Membership Registration). The membership will allow the school to field one team in each long term problem for each division the school covers. The exception to this rule is the primary division (K-2) in which a membership can field multiple teams. Most elementary schools are Division 1, middle schools are Division 2, and high schools are division 3.
  4. Long Term Problem: Each year Odyssey of the Mind publishes six long term problems. These are open-ended and challenging problems that allow for a wide range of responses. The long term problem is solved over the entire time period between the problem choosing, & the Regional competition. Style -The final area in which a team is judged is style. It is the “extra” touches they put into their presentation of their long term solution.
  5. Outside Assistance: The primary emphasis in the Odyssey of the Mind program is the kids do it all. No adult or child not on the team is allowed to offer any help or advice in solving the long term problem. The hardest part of coaching is keeping your mouth shut. Teams are penalized if outside assistance is suspected.
  6. Spontaneous Problem: On the day of a tournament, each team will enter a room and face a creative challenge never seen before. They are judged according to the creativity of their answers and their teamwork. Only the team is allowed into the Spontaneous problem room.
  7. Teams: A team is five to seven students working on a particular long term problem. Teams are formed by division according to age and grade, and teams compete against others within the same division in the same problem. The oldest member on a team defines the division in which the team must compete.  Each team must register as a team (Team Registration) after they have applied for their Annual National Membership Registration.
    1. Divisional team registration fee is $150/team and
    2. Primary team registration fee is $100/team.

How is a team competition Organized?

  • A school or organization becomes a member
  • Coaches are determined by the membership
  • Teams of 5 – 7 students are formed
  • Teams choose from the five presented long-term problems
  • Teams Develop & Practice Long Term Problem Solutions & Spontaneous Solving Skills
  • Competition at all levels is by Divisions.

How are team configured?

  • Primary Kindergarten through 2nd grade (Non-competitive)
  • Division I Kindergarten through 5th grade
  • Division II Grades 6 through 8
  • Division III Grades 9 through 12
  • Division IV Collegiate

Tournaments: The first competition a team faces is at the regional level, usually held from the first of February to mid March. If they do well, they may advance to the state competition held in April. Each team that places first or second, in their long term problem in each division at the state tournament, will make it to the world finals which occur at the end of May.

What do teams do in competition?
All teams are judged in three areas
     1. Long-Term Problem-solution
     2. Style

  • Is SIMULTANEOUS to Long Term solution
  • Each long-term must be showcased as part of a creative presentation.
  • Costumes, props, music, art, and other creative performance elements “market” the solution.
  • Long-term is the “HOW”, Style is the “WOW”.

     3. Spontaneous Problem-solving

  • Only the team is allowed into the Spontaneous problem room.
  • Day of Tournament
  • Limited solution time
  • Each team in the same problem and same division is given the same problem


  1. Choose a coordinator: This is the person who will communicate with the regional director, register the membership with national and state, and distribute information to the teams.
  2. See it firsthand: If possible, visit a tournament or volunteer at one. There’s no better way to see what creative things kids can do.
  3. Advertise the program to the kids and parents: Start early in the school year. Talk it up. Send home a flyer. Hold an information meeting. Secure adults who are willing to coach.
  4. Form teams: There are a variety of ways to do this. Kids can sign up for the problem in which they’re most interested or a membership can hold a creative competition to select team members. Remember no more than seven kids can be on a team, and no member can be replaced if he/she leaves the team, so choose carefully.
  5. Send your coaches to training: A trained coach is a necessity for a successful team. Trainings are held in the fall (October through December) at various locations. ALL Coaches must attend a mandatory coaches training (see Calendar of Events for current dates, times and locations for all trainings)