What is Odyssey of the Mind and what do we do?

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Why are you carrying empty cardboard boxes, PVC pipes and a carton of eggs into school?

How did the La Chat students build that?

What is going on in that classroom, is it science or theatre?

These are questions that are asked of an Odyssey of the Mind coach on a weekly basis. So, what is Odyssey of the Mind and what do we do?

The textbook answer is this:

Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem-solving program that asks students to creatively learn how to solve problems by brining their ideas to to life in an exciting, productive and collaborative environment. Participants build self-confidence, develop life skills, create new friendships, and are able to recognize and explore their true potential. Odyssey of the Mind proves that students can have fun while they learn. www.ootm.ch

The answer from the kids is:

It’s fun!


Odyssey of the Mind was started in 1978 in the United States and since then it has challenged students around the world to include creativity in their problem solving. The program emphasizes and promotes the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) standards, in everything that the students do.

Teams are comprised of five to seven students and are chosen at the beginning of the term. The teams learn to cooperate and work together throughout the year. There are five divisions within the organization and La Chat currently has teams in two divisions.

Division I: 5-11 years old

Division II: 12-14 years old

There are two types of problems: (1) long-term; and (2) spontaneous. Every year there are five long-term problems released by the organization. The five types of long-term problems are: vehicle; technical; classics; structure and performance. Each problem type contains various elements of STEAM. For example, this year’s performance problem asks the team to create a 2D map that transforms into a 3D map during a theatrical “skit.” Teams choose their long-term problem at the beginning of the school year and work on their solution to be presented in a live eight-minute skit at the competitions.

Spontaneous problems are solved “on-the-spot” and the show the students’ amazing creativity. Teams do not know what the problem will be until they walk into the room. There are three types of spontaneous problems that are usually solved in five minutes. There are verbal problems (e.g., storytelling with a twist), hands-on problem (e.g., building a bridge with tape and cotton swabs) and combination problems (e.g., build a prop and then tell a story about the prop).

La Chat has a rapidly expanding and enthusiastic Odyssey of the Mind program. We have five teams in the primary school and three teams in the secondary school. Our teams compete in two “Spontaneous Saturdays” and at the Swiss Regional Odyssey of the Mind Competition. In 2017 one of our teams took first place in the November Spontaneous Saturday!   The upcoming competitions are:

February 3 – Spontaneous Saturday

March 3 – Swiss Regional Competition

Our La Chat students have also attended the Eurofest Odyssey of the Mind Competition for the past two years, travelling to Minsk, Belarus in 2017 and Gdansk, Poland in 2016. The Eurofest Competition is a fun-filled festival for teams all across Europe to showcase their long-term problems, solve spontaneous problems and make new friends! The highlight of the festival is the mixed team problem where the different teams across Europe mix together to solve a new problem.

If you would like to know more about the Odyssey of the Mind program, please feel free to stop one of our coaches and ask. Our doors are always open for questions and new students. The best times to find us are Tuesdays in the Primary school 15h15-16h45, or Thursdays in the Secondary school at 15h25-16h55.

The coaches:

Lastly, we welcome any and all volunteers. The Spontaneous Saturday competitions are a great place to volunteer and witness first-hand what our students can achieve!

Watch the school calendar for competition times and note that all local competitions are held at the La Grande Bossiere campus.

 Go Hawks!
There is more information on the school website, in the Extra-Curricular Life drop-down, Culture and Leisure, Odyssey of the Mind.  Information about registrations should go to Tania Dutton  tania.dutton@ecolint.ch


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